Impressive Indian Art

A very unusual Indian ceiling painting is up for sale. The work was created for what was at the time the world’s largest-ever exhibition, in 1924, attended by 27 million visitors.

The sun god Surya

The gigantic ceiling painting measures approximately 575 x 575 cm and depicts the sun god Surya, surrounded by eight planets: Chandra (the moon), Bhauma (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Rahu (Uranus), Shukra (Venus), Ketu (Neptune) and Sanaischara (Saturn). It also has four triangular fields with buffalo, elephants, dogs and monkeys in the style of 5th-century Indian wall frescos. The central image of the sun god Surya and six of the eight planets are signed in Sanskrit.

The ceiling painting is framed with a floral frieze inspired by the ornamental paintings of the Ajanta caves, and depicts four gods: Ganesha, Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

Sir J.J. School of Art of Bombay

The Indian ceiling painting was conceived and executed under the guidance of W. E. Gladstone Solomon, principal of the Sir J. J. School of Art of Bombay (now Mumbai), which opened in 1857 with the help of a donation from businessman and philanthropist Jamsetji Jeejeebhai (1783–1859). Today, the school is the oldest cultural institution in the city and is affiliated with the University of Mumbai.

The following artists, who at the time were students attending the Sir J.J. School of Art, are cited as being involved in the creation of the ceiling painting: A. A. Bhonsule, S. Fernandiz, G. H. Nagarkar, N. L. Joshi, A. S. Khan, A. Kampadalli, B. A. Apte and B. Hatulkar.

The British Empire Exhibition

The ceiling painting and wall frieze were tailor-made for the Indian Room at the 1924 British Empire Exhibition in Wembley, Middlesex. The room was designed and decorated by the students at the Sir J.J. School of Art, with every department of the art school contributing. It took nine months to decorate the room, with the impressive ceiling painting as its crowning glory.

The British Empire Exhibition was an international colonial exhibition designed to promote trade and forge closer links between countries. Back then, the British Empire included 58 countries and territories, and all except Gambia and Gibraltar participated in the exhibition. With 27 million visitors, the exhibition was the largest the world had ever seen at that time.

You can view the Indian ceiling painting here

Preview: Thursday 24 February – Monday 28 February 2011.
Auction: Tuesday 1 March 2011.

Read more about the international auction here


For further information, please contact:

Birte Stokholm: +45 8818 1122 ·

Jeannette Trefzer: +45 8818 1123 ·



For further information, please contact:

Birte Stokholm: +45 8818 1122 ·

Jeannette Trefzer: +45 8818 1123 ·