The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum

The Entire World on A Golden Platter

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum

Jamshedji Tata dreamt of building his business into an empire it has grown to become today. Despite being wealthy, the Tatas are known throughout history for their philanthropy.

It can be pointed out that Jamshedji Tata sowed the seed for this generous habit of theirs. His younger son, Sir Ratan Tata might have grown up surrounded by riches but he never let that get into his head.

Sir Ratan Tata was born on 20th January, 1871. After graduating from the St Xavier’s College, at 25 he found himself becoming a Partner of the Tata & Sons firm. 

After his father’s demise in 1904, he helped his elder brother Sir Dorabji Tata run their expanding family business.

He dealt in cotton, silk, yarn, pearls and rice all across the world. However his heart was always in art and philanthropy.

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
Sir Ratan Tata

He donated large sums of money to support Gandhiji in Africa and Gopal Krishna Gokhale in his Servants of India Society.

Sir Ratan Tata’s philanthropic focus was on the weaker sections of the society and their betterment.

At the renowned London School of Economics (LSE), he promised to pay a substantial amount for research in widespread poverty and destitution. The LSE also commissioned a new department of social sciences calling it the Ratan Tata Department of Social Sciences. In 1919, the LSE took this department under its own charge and changed its name.

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As to do with archaeology and art, Sir Ratan Tata also supported the excavation at Pataliputra, the old capital of the Mauryan Empire. Here his colleagues were successful in rediscovering King Ashoka’s Throne Room.

As he travelled around the world across a variety of continents, he also picked up many pricy objects like paintings and porcelain.

In 1915, Ratan Tata took ill. To find assistance for his ailment, he packed his bags and set sail to England with his wife Navajbai Tata.

At England, he took up residence in a grand house called ‘York House’. He decked up this place with all the artefacts he had collected over the years.

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
The York House. A few pieces of the artefacts here are on display at the CSMVS Museum

A few pictures taken during the early 1900s of the York House clearly illustrate how grand it was.

He had paintings from all around Europe made by eminent artists, he also collected many statues and expensive types of paintings.

Unfortunately, Sir Ratan Tata took his last breath on 5th September, 1918.

In his will, Sir Ratan Tata bequeathed his wealth to a new trust named after him, Sir Ratan Tata Trust.

The Ratan Tata Trust is operational to this very day.

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And as a history lover, Ratan Tata also made sure that his priceless artefacts would be taken care of.

Sir Ratan Tata donated the art collection on display at his York House in England to the then Prince Of Wales museum in the city of Bombay we now call the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralay, Mumbai. To this day his art collection is on display at the museum on the 2nd floor in a gallery named after Sir Ratan Tata himself.

A 100 years after the early demise of Sir Ratan Tata, the CSMVS Museum is paying its respect to him through a special exhibition based on the artefacts he collected and donated to the museum in his lifetime.

This exhibition commenced on the 5th of September and was to end on the 7th of October however the Museum has extended the date till the 15th of October.

The exhibition is worth a look not just to admire the riches the early Tatas enjoyed but also the treasures they gave away whole heartedly for the betterment of the society. It is a lesson of morals and an important one to learn from: giving and gratitude.

From the artefacts on display (1st floor extension wing of the museum), here are a few that stood out for me.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
Sir Ratan Tata was a pioneer in collecting Tibetan and Buddhist sculptures since no one collected them as avidly as he did during his time.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
This cup depicts a scene from Roman mythology. On the top of the lid sits Bacchus, the lord of wine, as a child surrounded by grapes. Silenus, a follower of Bacchus and a Rural god himself is depicted on the cup. This cup is extremely detailed and beautifully crafted by Jakob Zimmermann around 1863 in Germany. Jakob Zimmermann supplied his work to King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 1860s and 1870s.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
This painting depicts an imaginary interior with a monument to the Habsburg family. The Habsburg family is the name given to the influential Austrian Royal Family who ruled the throne of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438-1740.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
When the Tata Family visited Japan in 1916, they fell in love with some of the artefacts here. One such form of art is called the Cloisonné. In this technique, fine metal wires are used to draw up an outline for a design which is then filled using enamel paste before the object is fired and polished.
This object is a Incense burner made by a famous Japanese Cloisonné enamel artist: Kyoto Namikawa between 1868-1912.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
This is a Japanese Netsuke. A Netsuke is a miniature sculpture which was in vogue during the 17th century in Japan. A Netsuke is an extremely tiny sculpture but a creation of skilled craftsmanship. A Netsuke serves a practical purpose rather than being ornamental.

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
Inside the York House. A picture from the Tata Archives

 

The Sir Ratan Tata exhibition at the CSMVS Museum
The York House, Twickenham, England

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Post Author: GiGlee Magazine

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