World’s largest oil painting to adorn Kolkata’s Victoria Memorial

Kolkata’s iconic Victoria Memorial is scheduled to undergo a complete makeover by January-end and put on display after at least two decades “The Jaipur Procession”, believed to be one of the largest oil paintings in the world.

The 23-ft wide by 16.5-ft high masterpiece by Russian painter Vasily Vereshchagin shows richly caparisoned elephants advancing majestically with horses and footmen in a procession in front of the Amber Chowpar in Jaipur in 1876. The Prince of Wales and Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur are seated on the first elephant. Done during the British Raj, the painting was originally the property of Edward Malley of New Haven in the US. It was acquired by the Maharaja of Jaipur and presented to the Victoria Memorial in 1905.

“In our brochure of 1967, this painting has been described as the largest in oils in India and, probably, the second largest in this medium in the world. This will be on display again in the Royal Gallery of the Museum after more than two decades,” said Jayanta Sengupta, secretary and curator of Victoria Memorial. The made-over memorial is likely to be inaugurated on January 31. Work on its modernisation was taken up under a ~ 60-crore renovation project funded by the Union ministry of culture. Built between 1906 and 1921, the Memorial is billed as one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. According to Sengupta, it drew around 3.8 million tourists in 2018. It has 25 galleries and display areas, including the Royal Gallery, Portrait Gallery, Durbar Hall and the Calcutta Gallery. In an effort to increase footfalls, the memorial’s timings will be extended by two hours to 8 pm on the weekends from January 20. “The Memorial will have an entirely new look. The Royal Gallery will be reopened after more than two decades.

Even the Portrait Gallery that housed a temporary gallery space will be reopened with new permanent features. Besides this, we will add another exhibit on the making of the Victoria Memorial Hall at the Entrance Hall.

We are sure that all this will help us get more visitors,” Sengupta said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 07:17 IST

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