Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy

Other names: 


Date of birth: 
22 Aug 1877
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka
Date of death: 
09 Sep 1947
Location of death: 
Needham, Massachusetts, USA
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1879
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was the son of Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy, from Ceylon, and his wife Elizabeth Clay Beeby, from Kent. Coomaraswamy joined Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire in 1889 and then studied Botany at University College London, graduating in 1900. He married Ethel Mary Partridge in 1902 and worked for the Minerological Survey in Ceylon, 1903-6.

In 1910, Coomaraswamy was involved in the formation of the India Society in London - a society dedicated to promoting Indian art. He wrote a number of pamphlets on Indian art and in 1917 took up a position as Research Fellow in Indian, Persian and Muhammadan Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

In 1912, he divorced his first wife. His second wife was Alice Richardson, a performer of Indian music. His third wife was the American artist Stella Bloch, but this marriage was short-lived.


Laurence Binyon, Stella Bloch (third wife), Walter Crane, Eric Gill, E. B. Havell, Christiana Herringham (India Society), Ethel Mary Mairet (first wife), Margaret Noble, A. R. Orage, Alice Richardson (second wife), T. W. Rolleston (India Society), William Rothenstein, M. J. Tambimuttu (nephew).

Involved in events: 
Published works: 

The Deeper Meaning of the Struggle (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1907)

The Aims of Indian Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

The Influence of Greek on Indian Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

Medieval Sinhalese Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

The Indian Craftsman (London: Probsthain & Co., 1909)

The Oriental View of Women (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1909)

Indian Drawings (London: India Society, 1912)

(with M. E. Noble) Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists (London: George Harrap, 1913)

Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism (London: Harrap, 1916)

Dance of Siva (New York: Simpkin, Marshall, 1924)

Figures of Speech or Figures of Thought (London: Luzac, 1946)

The Bugbear of Literacy (London: Dennis Dobson, 1949)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Burlington Magazine

Indian Art and Letters



Isis 2.2, September 1919

Indian Magazine and Review 481, January 1911

Secondary works: 

Seaman, G. R., 'Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish (1877-1947)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Coatts, Margot, ‘Mairet , Ethel Mary (1872–1952)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007) []

Lipsey, Roger, Coomaraswamy, 3 vols (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977)

Livingston, Ray, The Traditional Theory of Literature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962)

Mitter, Partha, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)

Archive source: 

Letters and notebooks, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge

Correspondence and papers, Princeton University Library, New Jersey

India Society Archives, Mss Eur F147, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Stella Bloch Archive, Ms Thr 460, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Boston

Stella Bloch Papers, CO822, Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey

Papers and photos, William Morris Hunt Memorial Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston