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Antonio Martinelli, India’s Royal Court


The extraordinary northern Indian city of Lucknow knew a particularly prosperous era during the mid 18th century, until the 1857 revolt against British rule. The city’s monuments are a reflection of the sophisticated lifestyle of Lucknow’s royal Nawabs (rulers) whose rise to power helped the city flourish through music, dance, and the arts.

Attracted by the generosity of the ruling power, a vast number of travelers, diplomats, European and Indian artists came and settled here, blending with the locals to create a cosmopolitan society that largely contributed to Lucknow’s radiance. Today, Lucknow holds a special place in the collective cultural memory of India.

Antonio Martinelli’s observation of the city, in conjunction with the exhibition, is a confrontation of his pictures with a diversity of original historic representations (engravings, paintings, photographs). Passionate about India, Martinelli has traveled to Lucknow more than 30 times since the 1970’s. The project, “Lucknow, In the Mirror of Time”, grew progressively over the past two decades and is now a step towards a greater project, that of retracing the steps of British painter-engravers Thomas and William Daniels who, upon returning to England after their 18th century exploration of India, sold their black-box camera pictures.

Antonio Martinelli’s work is part of a cultural and historic pictorial heritage, a contribution to a greater network of traveling artists who left to discover and represent the “Orient”. In addition to the architectural diploma he earned in 1979 in his hometown of Venice, Italy, his photographic work is also a business in cultural heritage. Providing witness to what still remains, building bridges between time periods are essential to his trade, active for nearly 30 years.

Laurence Ebs

Antonio Martinelli’s photographic exhibition, Lucknow, Au miroir du temps, at the Musée des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet, “In the Mirror of Time”, is on display alongside “The Royal Court of India, Lucknow, 18th – 19th centuries”, created and organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Lucknow, Au miroir du temps, Editions Filigranes, Text : Amina Taha Hussein-Okada, 2011

Lucknow, Au miroir du temps

Until July 11
Musée Guimet
6 Place d’Iéna
75016 Paris

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