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Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: the Berndt Kalighat album


Brittlebank, K, Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: the Berndt Kalighat album, Journal of the History of Collections, 20, (1) pp. 127-142 . ISSN 0954-6650 (2007) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1093/jhc/fhm017


In the early 1960s, the Australian anthropologist, Ronald M. Berndt, purchased a Victorian album containing forty-four Kalighat paintings from Bengal. The attraction of the album for Ronald and his wife Catherine, also an anthropologist, is examined here in the context of their work on Aboriginal Australia, revealing links between their public life and their personal collecting activities. The second part of the paper reconstructs the album's life history, prior to its acquisition by the Berndts. Owned previously by the artist Sir Hans Heysen, the album is shown to have been collected by the Australian Baptist Church's earliest missionaries to India. At the centre of the ownership of the paintings, from the time of their collection, lies their iconographic imagery: idolatrous to the eyes of the Christian missionaries, visually appealing to the artist and embodying rich religious and mythological meaning for the anthropologists.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:anthropology, fine art, Christian missionaries
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Asian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding past societies not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Brittlebank, K (Dr Kate Brittlebank)
ID Code:49665
Year Published:2007
Deposited By:History and Classics
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2012-11-13
Downloads:4 View Download Statistics

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