New Delhi: Viewing the rich historic art collections at Rashtrapati Bhavan is just a click away with President Pranab Mukherjee launching an e-catalogue today in an initiative for the benefit of public The catalogue, which has been updated after a gap of 83 years, shows the art collection of the President House including a painting of Louis XV which was won by the British as spoils in the battle against the French in 1757.
The e-catalogue was a birthday gift to the President from his Press Secretary Venu Rajamony on his 79th birthday.
A visibly pleased Mukherjee, while launching the e-catalogue on the official President's website, said it would be of great use to researchers, art lovers and visitors to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
He said maintenance of art and heritage is as important as its creation. "Every effort must be made to maintain and preserve the rich art repository in Rashtrapati Bhavan," Mukherjee said.
Rajamony, a 1986 batch Indian Foreign Services(IFS) officer, feels elated with the launch of the e-catalogue. "One feels very happy and honoured and with the President being an inspiration for the task, we have been able to bridge a huge gap.
"Besides this, the art treasure of the Rashtrapati Bhavan which was always a mystery is no longer a mystery and people can view it in any part of the world," Rajamony, who has authored a book on relations of India and UAE, said.
Rajamony recalls the visit of the President to the main library after assuming office in 2012. "There he saw a catalogue prepared in 1931 titled 'Descriptive list of the Pictures in the Viceroy¿s Residences at New Delhi, Simla and Calcutta.'
"He immediately asked whether this catalogue had ever been updated. After getting a reply in the negative, the President expressed a desire for the same that gave birth to an idea of having an e-catalogue.
"We have started by listing 113 paintings, busts, historic paintings etc etc. There are over 10,000 such items which will be added in due course," Rajamony, who was assisted by Ruchi Kumar, assistant curator at the museum, said.
The section 'History paintings and portraits of Indian leaders' contains 19 oil and canvas paintings at various portions of the sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan.
It includes a painting depicting the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Polish-born British artist Feliks Topolski, who was the official artist of II World war.
Besides this, swearing-in of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and first Governor General of Independent India C Rajagopalachari and portraits of all the Presidents are featured.
The other sections include Indian Antiques showing the statue of Lord Buddha and Bull at the entrance of Rashtrapati Bhavan, Murals and Frescos that show oil and wet paintings, French Portraits, Portraits of British Royalties and Viceroys, Chinese Paintings and Tapestries, Company paintings, sketches of old Luyten, Sculptures, Busts and Carpets and Modern Indian Art.
The collection also showcases carpets in various parts of the Rashtrapati Bhavan including a elegantly woven Kashmiri
carpets brought by Sir Edwin Luyten.
Sixteenth.... and Seventeenth century traditional Persian carpets were borrowed from private collectors and were recreated by artisans from Kashmir.
Six such carpets have been showcased in the e-catalogue.