Ernest Binfield Havell

Date of birth: 
16 Sep 1861
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
30 Dec 1934
Location of death: 

Havell was Principal of the Madras School of Industrial Arts from 1884 to 1892 and Principal of the Calcutta School of Art and Keeper of the Government Art Gallery from 1896 until 1906. In Calcutta, Havell worked with Abanindranath Tagore, nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, in developing a Bengal School of Art by reforming the art education at the Calcutta School of Art to gain inspiration from Mughal art rather than western methods.

In February 1910, Havell gave a lecture in London to the Royal Society of Arts on Indian Art, to which the Chair, George Birdwood, responded that India had no fine art tradition. Partly as a response to this, Havell was instrumental in founding the India Society - he convened a meeting at his house in March 1910 where the idea of the Society was concretized. The India Society was formed to bring attention to Indian Art in Britain and the West. The Society organized lectures, exhibitions and produced publications on Indian Art, including Havell's 1920 publication of a Handbook of Indian Art.

Havell was also appointed to the Indian Section Committee of the Festival of Empire held at Crystal Palace in 1911. From 1916 to 1923 Havell was a member of the British legation in Copenhagen. He died on 30 December 1934 at the Acland Nursing Home, Oxford.

Involved in events: 
Published works: 

The Industrial Development of India: Lecture (Calcutta: The Englishman, 1901) 

A Handbook to the Agra and the Taj, Sikandra, Fatehpur-Sikri and the Neighbourhood (London: Longmans & Co., 1904) 

Hand-Loom Weaving in India (Calcutta: Luxmir Bhandar, 1905)

Benares, The Sacred City:Sketches of Hindu Life and Religion (London: Blackie & Son, 1905)

Monograph on Stone-Carving in Bengal (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1906)

Indian Sculpture and Painting Illustrated by Typical Masterpieces, with an Explanation of their Motives and Ideals (London: John Murray, 1908)

Essays on Indian Art, Industry & Education (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., 1910)

The Ideals of Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1911)

Eleven Plates Representing Works of Indian Sculpture (London: The India Society, 1911)

The Basis for Artistic and Industrial Revival in India (Adyar, Madras: Theosophist Office, 1912)

Indian Architecture, its Psychology, Structure, and History from the First Muhammadan Invasion to the Present Day (London: John Murray, 1913)

The Ancient and Medieval Architecture of India: A Study of Indo-Aryan Civilisation (London: J. Murray, 1915)

The History of Aryan Rule in India from the Earliest Times to the Death of Akbar (London: G. G. Harrap & Co., 1918)

A Handbook of Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1920)

The Himalayas in Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1924)

A Short History of India from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (London: Macmillan, 1924)

The Art Heritage of India, Comprising 'Indian Sculpture and Painting' and 'Ideals of Indian Art' (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., 1964)

Indian Architecture Through the Ages (New Delhi: Asian Publication Services, 1978)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Asiatic Review

Modern Review

The Studio

Secondary works: 

Calendars of the Grants of Probate…Made in…HM Court of Probate [England and Wales] (1935)

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K., Golubev, Vicktor, Havell, Ernest Binfield and Rodin, Francois Auguste, Sculptures Civaites. Par Auguste Rodin, Ananda Coomaraswamy, E.-B. Havell Et Victor Goloubew [Ars Asiatica. No. 3.] (Bruxelles & Paris, 1921)

Jamal, O., 'E. B. Havell: The Art and Politics of Indianness', Third Text 39 (1997), pp. 3-19  

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, 'Havell, Ernest Binfield (1861-1934)', rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

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

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-Garde 1922-1947 (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Tarapor, Mahrukh Keki, ‘Art Education in Imperial India: the Indian Schools of Art’, in Kenneth Ballhatchet and David Taylor (eds) Changing South Asia (London: SOAS, 1984)

The Times (1 January 1935)

Who Was Who (1929-40)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Ms Eur. D. 736, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence from Havell to William Rothenstein, Houghton Library, Harvard University