Course Description

This course considers the way in which objects construct royal identity for India’s maharajas (“great kings”) by looking closely at the exhibition Maharaja: The Splendor of India’s Royal Courts on view at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (October 21, 2011 through April 8, 2012). Considered alongside histories of making and collecting in South Asia, we will explore the historical narrative, thematic content, and works of art on display in the Maharaja exhibition. Our study will encompass a broad range of visual and material objects – from paintings and textiles to weapons and photographs – that helped shape the lives of Indian maharajas from the decline of the Mughal Empire in the early 18th century to the end of British rule in 1947. Students will be expected to visually analyze works of art, critically read texts for argument and methodology, and write well-organized and persuasive arguments about visual objects. This course requires that students visit the Asian Art Museum several times throughout the duration of the Maharaja exhibition; all are encouraged to purchase a student membership to the museum prior to the start of class.

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