The set of miniature paintings now on display in Arpana Fine Arts Museum in the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature is the exquisite collection of Dr. Makhan Singh Bajaj. An intellectual and spiritual man with a developed eye whose judgment and taste for art acquired these during his stay and travelin Pakistan before Partition.
This was later passed on to Ajit Caur ji, a great benefactor of culture and an eminent Punjabi Writer. These were lying in storage for many years when Arpana Caur, initiated to have them displayed for scholars, artists and connoisseurs to benefit and appreciate, as she herself seems to be greatly inspired in her own work from the tradition of miniature painting. One senses the warmth towards these works of art that mark the true collector. The traditional miniature paintings have been displayed so far in Government Museums only such as the National Museum (Delhi) and other State Museums. Perhaps no private collection have been thus displayed, hence this Museum is a sincere and generous effort is bridge this long needed gap.
Her love for these historic artifacts inspired her to get them photographed, restored, mounted in acid-free mounts, and written about by the miniature expert Usha Bhatia. It took almost two years to have them on display before the gallery was redone, the bricks were removed and the walls were injected by waterproof injections and invisible cement inside. Being historic and very vulnerable to deterioration, conservator Deepshikha restored some of them with great sensitivity.
The collection, on permanent exhibit finally, includes nearly two hundred works dating from the Seventeenth century into the Twentieth with a wide range of styles and genres with special emphasis on the Sikh school.
This volume was conceived with the thought of sharing these jewel-like paintings with as many people as possible, and has materialized with the enthusiasm and enlightened interest taken by Arpana Caur. Since it is a largely inherited collection, the book follows the order of arrangement based on the sensibilities of the artist rather than traditional chronological order of schools.
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