Indian Art and Letters


Indian Art and Letters was the organ of the India Society. It was published twice a year from 1925 and produced articles relating to the activities of the India Society and their counterparts in France (L'Association Française des Amis de L'Orient) and the Netherlands. The journal would include transcripts of the lectures delivered to the India Society. These would include lectures by Indian visitors to London.

As the publication of the India Society, Indian Art and Letters would print the Annual Report of the India Society every year. The journal also published notices about relevant exhibitions and in 1930 and 1931 was particularly concerned with the question of building a Central Museum for Asiatic Art in the heart of London. Indian Art and Letters gives insight into the activities of those interested in Asiatic Art in London in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.

Other names: 

Art and Letters: India and Pakistan (1948-9) 

Art and Letters (1949 - 1964)

Date began: 
01 Jan 1925
Key Individuals' Details: 

Frederick Richter (editor)


Contributors included: 

Mulk Raj Anand, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Ajit Ghose, Mohammad Iqbal, K. M. Panikkar, Stanley Rice, Earl of Ronaldshay, Ranjee G. Shahani, W. E. Gladstone Solomon, Edward Thompson, John de la Valette

Archive source: 

India Society minutes, Mss Eur F147/65A and 65B, and India Society press cuttings, Mss Eur F147/104-7, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Tags for Making Britain: 

Edwin Lutyens


A period of enforced rest on account of a childhood bout of rheumatic fever, combined with a sheltered early life in Surrey, helped Lutyens gain an in-depth knowledge of traditional building methods and sketching skills. After an abortive enrolment at the National Art Training School and a brief connection with an architectural firm, Lutyens set up his own architectural practice in 1889 at the age of 19. In the early stages of his career Lutyens designed many country houses, often with gardens designed by his mentor Gertrude Jekyll. He was heralded as a new light in British rural architecture, and courted by such establishment icons as Country Life and Edward Hudson, owner of Lindisfarne Castle, which Lutyens restored.

In April 1897 Lutyens married Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton, daughter of the late Viceroy of India, Edward Bulwer-Lytton. They had five children, but the marriage experienced a period of near-estrangement on account of Emily’s heavy involvement with Theosophy and devotion to the spiritual leader Jiddu Krishnamurti. Later, Emily established an all-India Home Rule movement, somewhat at odds with Lutyens’ role as architect for the new capital. They were reconciled in the early 1930s, after Lutyens’ close friendship with Lady Sackville-West.

Lutyens sought for some time larger-scale international works, and was successful in designing the Johannesburg Art Gallery (1911-40) and the British Pavilion at the international exhibition in Rome (1911). In 1912 Lutyens was invited to join the Commission responsible for the design of New Delhi, given the announcement the previous year that the Government of India would move there from Calcutta. Lord Crewe, the Indian Secretary, was familiar with Lutyens’ work in Hampstead. Lutyens travelled to India in 1912, and explored Delhi, Bombay and Simla, returning several times as he mapped out his vast city plan. The Viceroy’s House, now Rashtrapati Bhavan, official residence of the President of India, is Lutyens’ masterpiece. Despite his initial misgivings about Mughal architecture, the finished building fuses Mughal and Hindu elements, as well as the Buddhist railing from the stupa at Sanchi around the central dome. The building contains approximately 340 rooms, and is built on an area of 1.3 square kilometres. The garden was designed by Lutyens. During the building process, Lutyens and his fellow architect Herbert Baker made annual winter visits to India until forced to cease for the duration of the First World War. This and other delays meant that the Viceroy’s House was not completed until 1929, and the city inaugurated in 1931, a ceremony which Lutyens attended with his wife.

Lutyens is also remembered in Europe for his work with the Imperial War Graves Commission, and the design of the Cenotaph on Whitehall, the war cemeteries including Étaples and the Faubourg d'Amiens cemetery at Arras, and, perhaps most striking of all, the Thiepval Arch, memorial to the missing soldiers from the Battle of the Somme.

Published works: 

Houses and Gardens (Country Life, 1914)

Fulbrook: 'A House You Will Love to Live In'. The Sketchbook, Letters, Specifications of Works & Accounts for a House by Edwin Lutyens, 1896-1899, ed. by Jane Brown (Marlborough: Libanus Press, 1989)

Date of birth: 
29 Mar 1869

Atul Bose, Mukul Dey, Lord Hardinge (Viceroy of India), Jiddu Krishnamurti, J. A. Lalkaka, Emily Lutyens (wife), Firoz Khan Noon.

Royal Academy, Royal Institute of British Architects.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Architectural Review (‘On Modern Architecture’, 54, December 1923, pp. xlii-xliv; ‘Tradition Speaks’, 72, October 1932, pp. 163-4; ‘How and Why’, 71, April 1932, pp. 123-4)

Country Life ('The Work of the Late Philip Webb', 37, 8 May 1915, p. 618; ‘What I Think of Modern Architecture’, lxix, 1931, pp. 775-7; ‘Persian Brickwork’, February 1933, pp. 118-23)

English Life (‘Building of Imperial Delhi’, 1932)

The Times (‘Wren and his Tradition, the Teaching of Brick, Modern Foibles’, 20 October 1932)

The Observer (‘The Robotism of Architecture’, 29 January 1928)

Secondary works: 

The Architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens, 3 vols (London: Country Life, 1950)

Byron, R, ‘New Delhi’, Architectural Review 69 (1931)

Hopkins, Andrew and Stamp, Gavin (eds.), Lutyens Abroad: The Work of Sir Edwin Lutyens Outside the British Isles (London: British School at Rome at the British Academy, 2002)

Hussey, Christopher, The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd, 1984)

Irving, Robert Grant, Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981)

Lutyens, Emily, Candles in the Sun (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1957)

Lutyens, Mary, Edwin Lutyens by his Daughter (London: John Murray, 1980)

Lutyens, Robert, Sir Edwin Lutyens: An Appreciation in Perspective (London: Country Life, 1942)

Jekyll, Gertrude, Home and Garden (Longmans, 1901)

Muthesius, Hermann, The English House, ed. by D. Sharp, trans. by J. Seligman (London: Crosby Lockwood Staples, [1908-11] 1979)

Percy, Clayre and Ridley, Jane, The Letters of Edwin Lutyens to his Wife Lady Emily (London: Collins, 1985)

Pevsner, Sir Nikolaus, ‘Building with Wit: The Architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens, Architectural Review 111 (1951)

‘Reminiscences on Sir Edwin Lutyens,’ Architectural Association Journal, 74 (March 1959)

Ridley, Jane, The Architect and His Wife: A life of Edwin Lutyens (London: Chatto & Windus, 2002)

Weaver, Lawrence, Houses and Gardens by E. L. Lutyens (London: Country Life, 1913)

Archive source: 

Letters and Plans, Centre for Kentish Studies, Maidstone, Kent

Correspondence and papers, Royal Institute of British Architects, British Architectural Library, London

Caricatures, sketches and letters to Lewis family, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence and letters relating to work for Imperial War Graves Commission, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Maidenhead

Letters to Lord Hardinge, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge

Letters to Lord Lothian, National Archive of Scotland, Edinburgh

Comprehensive lists of works by and about Lutyens, gallery of works and current preservation campaigns

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens

Ned Lutyens

Date of death: 
01 Jan 1944
Location of death: 
London, England
Tags for Making Britain: 

Empire of India Exhibition, 1895

01 May 1895
Event location: 

Earl's Court, London


The twenty-four acre Earl's Court Exhibition Grounds were rebuilt in 1894 by the impresario Imre Kiralfy in a Mughal Indian style. The Empire of India Exhibition opened the site in 1895, and was the first of a series of annual exhibitions there, which drew heavily on the abundance of transport links in the area to attract a mass audience. Highlights of the site included the two-storey Empress Theatre, which could seat 6,000 viewers for Kiralfy’s spectacle plays, and the 300-feet high Ferris wheel, whose forty carriages could each accommodate thirty people.

Of the groups who helped Kiralfy arrange the exhibition, Gregory writes: ‘The Empire of India Exhibition of 1895…had as Patrons four Maharajas and four Rajas, headed by the anglophile Gaekwar of Baroda. The “Honorary Committee” listed nearly two hundred names, including one Duke, one Marquis, two Earls, two Viscounts, and twelve Lords. The “Old Welcome Club” was presided over by Field-Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar...Asiatic specialists such as Sir George Birdwood, Sir C. Purdon Clarke, and Sir Edwin Arnold lent practical advice as well as support’ (p. 303). Hartley also mentions Proctor Watson, who acted as agent to engage ‘native craftsmen’ from India, and who purchased ‘some old condemned houses in Poona, which were taken down and all the lovely woodwork sent over’ (p. 71). Hartley writes of the care he took over the ‘natives’ during their residence in London, supplying them with live sheep and goats to be killed appropriately for their consumption, as well as taking them to destinations such as Windsor Castle and Hampton Court. Hartley also mentions the Amir of Afghanistan’s nephew’s regular visits to the exhibition.

One of the highlights was ‘India: A Grand Historical Spectacle’, written and directed by Kiralfy and performed in the Empress Theatre. The spectacle opened in July, two months after the rest of the site. It presented the history of India, from 1024 to the present day, in dance, mime and songs. It was the only one of Kiralfy’s spectacles to run for two seasons. When discussing the India spectacle, Gregory draws a distinction between this historical survey and the one at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886 at the Imperial Institute, which ‘was the first of such surveys…but it is important to distinguish between the Government backed propaganda of the Imperial Institute and the commercial exploitation of a popular subject at Earl's Court’ (p. 362, fn151).

In 1896 Kiralfy held a revised form of the Empire of India Exhibition, entitled the ‘India and Ceylon Exhibition'. Gregory notes: ‘When the company decided…to revive the Indian exhibition, no doubt swayed by Kiralfy's insistence on presenting India for a second season, they were reliant on the individual co-operation of members of the Indian Military and Civil Service, foremost amongst whom was Sir George Birdwood. The Exhibition was essentially the same as that in 1895, but the frame of reference was widened to include Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Borneo, and Burma. New groups of "native villagers" were brought to England for the season, including Sinhalese craftsmen and a team of Burmese football players’ (p. 322).

Imre Kiralfy
People involved: 
Published works: 

Kiralfy, Imre, Empire of India Exhibition, Earl's Court, London, 1895: Official Programme, (London: J. J. Keliner & Co., 1895)

Kiralfy, Imre, Imre Kiralfy’s Historical Spectacle India, Libretto (London: J. J. Keliner & Co., 1895)

The Empire of India Exhibition, 1895, The Conception, Design and Production of Imre Kiralfy, Empire of India Exhibition, 1895 (London Exhibitions Limited, 1895)

Ward, Rowland, The Jungle and Indian Animal Life… [for the Empire of India exhibition] [a description] (1895)


See contemporary newspapers, including: The Times, 16 May, 28 May, 4 June 1895

Secondary works: 

Gregory, Brendan Edward, 'The Spectacle Plays and Exhibitions of Imre Kiralfy, 1887-1914', unpublished PhD thesis (University of Manchester, 1988)

Greenhalgh, Paul, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fair, 1851-1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988)

Hartley, Harold, Eighty-Eight Not Out: A Record of Happy Memories (London: Frederick Muller, 1939)

Hoffenberg, Peter H., An Empire on Display: English, Indian and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War (London: University of California Press, 2001)

Mackenzie, John M., Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 97-120

Mackenzie, John M (ed.), Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1986)

Pes, Javier, ‘Kiralfy, Imre (1845-1919)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) []


The Empire of India Exhibition, 1895, The Conception, Design and Production of Imre Kiralfy, Empire of India Exhibition, 1895 (London: Exhibitions Limited, 1895)


Visitors arrived in ‘Elysia’ - a collection of popular entertainment buildings and ‘The Gigantic Wheel’. North of here lay formal gardens with fountains, surrounded by refreshment buildings, small entertainment halls, and the ‘Himalayas Gravity Railway’. Visitors could continue south-east through the ‘Indian City’ with Indian bazaars on either side of the ‘Indian Jungle’ and ‘Carpet factory’. The Indian City also contained a small mosque. They would then approach the largest buildings of the site – the Imperial Palace and the Empress Theatre. East of these, towards Earls Court Station, lay the Ducal Hall, pavilions exhibiting the liberal arts, and the less formal Reva and Nirvana Gardens. Throughout the site were refreshment halls.

Archive source: 

Original programme, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Photos of 1896 India and Ceylon Exhibition in Photo 888 series, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Franco-British Exhibition, 1908

26 May 1908
End date: 
31 Oct 1908
Event location: 

White City, Shepherds Bush, London.


From the Official Catalogue: ‘The suggestion for a Franco-British Exhibition to celebrate the entente cordiale between the two nations was the idea of Mr. Imre Kiralfy, and was first suggested in April, 1904.’ Following the success of the India Exhibition of 1895, Kiralfy expanded his scope immensely, resulting in a public fair at a 140-acre site in West London, which was visited by about nine million people. The Central Line was specially extended for the exhibition, and a new station created on the Hammersmith line. £300,000 was pledged by guarantors, and negotiations opened with the committee arranging the Olympic Games of 1908, which were to take place on the same site. Twenty palaces and seven exhibition halls were constructed of ‘fire-proof materials.’ The Indian Pavilion was built ‘in the severe style of Mohammedan architecture by the Government of India’ (Official Guide, 46). The ‘Indian Arena’ offered ‘the spectacle of “Our Indian Empire.”’ A replica Ceylonese village was built. Refreshments were provided by, amongst others, the Indian and Ceylon Tea-houses of Lipton and Co.

The Chairman of the Indian Group Committee was Sir William Lee-Warner, who had been political and judicial secretary to the Bombay government in the 1880s, and then, in the 1890s, had represented Bombay in the central legislative council. The Honorary President of the Indian Group was the Earl of Minto, Viceroy and Governor-General of India. Despite the hundreds of people apparently involved in the exhibition as a whole, only two Asian names are listed as members of the Indian Committee (Catalogue, p. xl). They are Saiyid Husain Bilgrami, an Indian politician and member of the All India Muslim League, and Krishna Gobinda Gupta, the seventh Indian member of the Indian Civil Service. A report on the Indian Section gives more details, particularly of ‘Indian Princes, officials, and others who assisted in the organisation of the Indian section’: H. H. the Maharaja of Bikanir; H. H. the Maharaja of Jaipur; H. H. the Maharaja Sindhia of Gwalior; H. H. the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir; and H. H. the Mir of Khairpur.

Some of the South Asians listed as exhibiting are listed as living in London. For a summary list of companies and organizations involved, one can consult the index to the Official Catalogue (pp. 317-8). Entries include: Assam Frontier Tea Company, Calcutta; Central Jail, Vellore; Government of India; H. H. the Maharaja of Mysore; H. H. the Mire of Khairpur; Madras School of Art; and the P. B. Press, Bombay.

A map of the exhibition area shows the Australian Pavilion to have been the largest, in the south-west corner of the site, flanked by the Canadian Pavilion and French Supplied Arts section. Moving north-east to the centre of the site, were the Elite Gardens, surrounded by the Royal Pavilion, the restaurant, and the Imperial Pavilion with the India Palace north of that. To the south-east of the site was the Court of Honour and the Palace Français. To the very north-east of the site, alongside Wood Lane, was the Olympic Stadium. The Official Catalogue notes: ‘Generations will pass away before these games can again be held in Great Britain, and every effort has been made to make this the greatest athletic concourse that has every been assembled’ (p. l). The site is now home to the BBC Television Centre and the large shopping centre, Westfield, for the development of which the last standing Exhibition buildings were demolished.

People involved: 

H. H. the Maharaja of Bikanir (assisted with organization of Indian section), Saiyid Husain Bilgrami (member, Indian Committee), George Nathaniel Curzon (member, British General Committee), Krishna Gobinda Gupta (member, Indian Committee), H. H. the Maharaja Sindhia of Gwalior (assisted with organization of Indian section), H. H. the Maharaja of Jaipur (assisted with organization of Indian section), H. H. the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (assisted with organization of Indian section), H. H. the Mir of Khairpur (assisted with organization of Indian section), Imre Kiralfy (designer of Court of Honour, assisted by his sons - Charles, Albert and Gerald), John Morley (Honorary President, Indian Committee), Gilbert John Elliot Murray Kynynmound, fourth Earl of Minto (Honorary President, Indian Section).

Published works: 

Daily Mail, special edition printed at the Exhibition.

Franco-British Exhibition, London, Shepherds Bush, 1908, Official Catalogue (Derby and London: Bemrose and Sons Limited)

Franco-British Exhibition, London, 1908. Official Guide and Description Sommaire de l’Exposition (Derby and London: Bemrose and Sons Limited)

Report on the Indian Section of the Franco-British Exhibition, London, 1908, by the Executive Committee of the Indian Section (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1909)

[Birdseye view of] The Imre Kiralfy new International Exhibition Grounds, Hammersmith, London, W. Drawn by A. Poudoire, Architect, 1904. Held at the British Library, Maps 3560.(34.)


See contemporary newspapers, including Sir Walter Armstrong, ‘Art at the Exhibition’, Guardian, 3 June 1908

Secondary works: 

Brown, F. H. ‘Warner, Sir William Lee (1846–1914)’, rev. Katherine Prior, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Greenhalgh, Paul, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World’s Fair, 1851-1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988)

Greenhalgh, Paul, ‘Art, Politics and Society at the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908,’ Art History 8.4 (December 1985), pp. 434-52.

Mackenzie, John M., Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984)

Mackenzie, John M. (ed.), Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1986).

Pes, Javier, ‘Kiralfy , Imre (1845–1919)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) []


Franco-British Exhibition, London, 1908. Official Guide and Description Sommaire de l’Exposition (Derby and London: Bemrose and Sons Limited), pp. 47-8.


On the replica Ceylon village


It is composed of a cluster of gaily coloured houses and huts in the style familiar to tourists who visit Colombo, the Gate of the Far East. The Bazaars are full of life, with their many brown artisans chatting, laughing and quarrelling, but intent all the while upon their handiwork. In the background a huge Pagoda towers over the village, and dark passages lead to the temple in the rocks, accessible only to the priests. Cingalee dancers, musicians, jugglers, and beautiful nautch-girls will entertain the visitors, and many of the mysterious tricks which have hitherto baffled explanation will be performed before the eyes of the astounded onlooker. After dusk a clever scheme of illumination will transform the Ceylon village into a perfect fairyland.

Archive source: 

All original sources are available at the British Library, St Pancras

Ram Singh


Bhai Ram Singh was an artisan from Amritsar who designed and worked on the Durbar Room at Osborne House in the 1890s.

Born in the Punjab in 1857, Ram Singh was educated in the Mission School in Amritsar. Ram Singh came to the notice of Lockwood Kipling, the father of Rudyard, in India. Kipling was Principal and Director of the Mayo School of Industrial Arts in Lahore and invited by Queen Victoria to design a banqueting hall for Osborne House. Kipling took Ram Singh to England to design this room for the Queen in 1891. Ram Singh stayed in England for three years and was principal craftsman on the job. He was then commissioned to design an 'Indian Extension' for the Duke of Connaught at Bagshot Park, Surrey. After his return to India, he became Principal of Mayo School and received various honours for his work. He died in 1916.

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1857

Lockwood Kipling, Queen Victoria.

Precise DOB unknown: 

The Graphic, 29 October 1892

Secondary works: 

Ata-Ullah, Naazish, 'Stylistic Hybridity and Colonial Art and Design Education: A Wooden Carved Screen by Ram Singh', in T. Barringer and T. Flynn (eds) Colonialism and Object: Empire, Material Culture and the Museum (London: Routledge, 1998).

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2007)

Singh, Harbans, Encycopaedia of Sikhism (Patiala: Punjab University, 1995)

Archive source: 

English Heritage Photo Library

Osborne House, Isle of Wight

Lockwood Kipling sketch of Ram Singh, University of Sussex

Involved in events: 

Attends National Indian Assocation soirée, February 1892. [See Birmingham Daily Post, 25 February 1892]

Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sardar Bahadur Bhai Ram Singh

Bhai Ram Singh


Osborne House Isle of Wight, PO32 6JX
United Kingdom
50° 45' 3.9672" N, 1° 16' 12.864" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1916
Precise date of death unknown: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1891
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


Tags for Making Britain: 

Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886

04 May 1886
Event location: 

South Kensington, London


In Autumn 1884, the Prince of Wales assumed the Presidency of the Royal Commission for the projected Colonial and Indian Exhibition. The Indian Court relied upon the assistance and involvement of the India Office in London and Indian Government, with work beginning in early 1885 to design the exhibition space and procure goods for display.

'India' took up roughly one third of the exhibition space in 1886. 103,000 square feet were dedicated within the exhibition buildings to India at a cost of £22,000. The Indian Government contributed £10,000 to this, with the rest of the money coming from the Royal Commission and various grants. Apart from the financial contributions needed, exhibits had to be procured, and in this the Indian princes and Indian states were intimately involved, donating a range of goods.

The Indian exhibits included art, architecture, economic goods, silks and anthropological studies. Art-wares were organized by Indian provinces - marking a break from previous exhibitions where displays had been ordered by juries on their rankings. The Indian Court was received well by the press and the Royal Family. The Gateways in particular attracted much attention. (The Jaipur Gate, paid for by the Maharaja of Jaipur, has stood in the grounds of the Hove Museum and Art Gallery since 1926.) The exhibition included a display of 'native artisans' - thirty-four men from Agra demonstrating various crafts and professions, from sweetmeat maker to potter to carpet weaver. These men were in fact inmates from Agra Jail who had arrived in Britain on 20 April 1886 with Dr J. W. Tyler, superintendent of Agra Jail. They were all invited to a reception at Windsor Castle to meet Queen Victoria in July 1886.

The exhibition was open for 164 days and welcomed 5,559,745 visitors.

Prince of Wales and Royal Commission
People involved: 

Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree (Commissioner for H. H. the Thakur Sahib of Bhawnagar), B. J. Bose (Administration Court), Edward C. Buck (Commissioner for the Government of India), Philip Cunliffe-Owen (Executive Commissioner), B. A. Gupta (Silk Culture and Bombay Art Ware Courts), E. B. Havell (part of Madras committee), T. N. Mukharji (in charge of the commercial enquiry office), C. Purdon Clarke (Honorary Architect), J. R. Royle (Official Agent for the Government of India), Thomas Wardle (arranged silk collection).

Published works: 

Colonial and Indian Exhibition, 1886. Empire of India: Special Catalogue of Exhibits by the Government of India and Private Exhibitors (London: William Clowes & Sons., 1886)

Report of the Royal Commission for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1887)

Royle, J. R., Report on the Indian Section of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886 (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1887)



The Colonial and Indian Exhibition 1886: Supplement to the Art Journal (1886) 

Pall Mall Gazette, 4 May 1886

Illustrated London News, 17 July 1886 and 24 July 1886

Primrose Record 2, 1886

Various reports in the daily press including illustrations in the Graphic and the Penny Illustrated Paper

Cundall, Frank, Reminiscences of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, illustrated by Thomas Riley (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1886)

E. V. B., A London Sparrow at the Colinderies (London: Sampson Low, 1887)

Mukharji, T. N., A Visit to Europe (Calcutta: W. Newman, 1889)

Secondary works: 

Barringer, Tim and Flynn, Tom, Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture, and the Museum (London: Routledge, 1998)

Burton, Antoinette, 'Making a Spectacle of Empire: Indian Travellers in Fin-de-siecle London', History Workshop Journal, 42 (1996), pp. 127-46

Dutta, Arindam, 'The Politics of Display: India 1886 and 1986', Journal of Arts and Ideas 30-1 (1997), pp. 115-45

Greenhalgh, Paul, Ephemeral Vistas: The Expositions Universelles, Great Exhibitions and World's Fairs, 1851-1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988) 

Hoffenberg, Peter H., An Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War (London: University of California Press, 2001)

King, Brenda M., Silk and Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

Mathur, Saloni, India by Design: Colonial History and Cultural Display (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007)

The Imperial Institute


The idea to build the Imperial Institute originated in the late 1870s with the idea to build a permanent Empire museum or exhibition in London. An Indian Museum (of art objects) was opened at South Kensington in 1880, and then following the success of the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition the Prince of Wales enlisted the colonial representatives in a scheme to perpetuate the exhibition for the celebration of the Queen's approaching Jubilee.

The building was designed by T. E. Colcutt. The foundation stone was laid by the Queen in July 1887 and the official opening by the Queen took place on 10 May 1893 in a temporary hall as the Great Hall was not completed. Initially under Central Government control, the management of the Institute was transferred to the Colonial Office in 1907 and then to Department of Overseas Trade in 1925. The Institute provided information about trade and the buildings were used for a number of events. It housed a number of departments and exhibition galleries were used to promote trade and research. The building was also used to host overseas visitors. It was at the Imperial Institute that the National Indian Assocation held their 'At Home' event on 1 July 1909 at which Sir Curzon-Wyllie was assassinated by Madan Lal Dhingra.

In the 1950s, parts of the buildings were demolished for the expansion of Imperial College. The Institute was renamed the Commonwealth Institute in 1958 and moved to Holland Park in 1962.

Published works: 

Imperial Institute Journal

Imperial Institute: Report of Progress from the Date of its Establishment to the 26th Nov. 1892, etc (London: Waterlow & Sons, 1892)

Imperial Institute, 1887-1956 (London: Commonwealth Institute, 1956)

Leckey, William E. H., The Empire, its Value and Growth: An Inaugural Address delivered at the Imperial Institute (London: Longmans, 1893)

The Year Book of the Imperial Institute : A statistical record of the resources and trade of the colonial and Indian possessions of the British empire (London: Executive Council, 1892-1895)

Secondary works: 

Golant, William, 'Image of Empire, the early history of the Imperial Institute, 1887-1925' (Exeter: University of Exeter, 1984) [Pamphlet]

Mackenzie, John M., 'The Imperial Institute', The Round Table 76.302 (1987), pp. 246-53

MacKenzie, John M., Propaganda and Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984)

Sheppard, F. H. W., 'Imperial Institute', Survey of London: volume 38: South Kensington Museums Area (1975), pp. 220-7

Date began: 
04 Jul 1887
Archive source: 

Royal Archives, Windsor


United Kingdom
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