Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Washington Social Diary

Special Rajasthani turbans sent from the Maharaja of Jodhpur for all the guests.
Rare Royal Art at the Sackler
By Carol Joynt

According to Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodphur-Marwar, in 1226 his ancestors “rode out into the wilderness known as Marwar,” leaving behind the ruins of the imperial capital of Kanauj. Over time they laid the foundations of Mehrangarth Fort and the city that would become known as Jodphur, the largest of the ancient Rajput Kingdoms.

“Five hundred fifty years later, Mehrangarth remains a strong symbol of the clan, my family, and the city – its culture, traditions, festivals and history.”
“Garden and Cosmos” opening reception in Arthur M. Sackler Pavilion.
It was there in 1972 that Gaj Singh II set up the Mehrangarth Museum Trust to house, among other treasures, a spectacular collection of Indian paintings that were created over the centuries solely for the private enjoyment of the Marwar-Jodphur royals.

Now, thanks in part to Singh, the 38th Maharaja of his clan, sixty of the works – many newly discovered - are on display in a rare exhibition at Washington’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Even for scholars of Indian art this exhibition is a first viewing of the royal paintings. The collection will tour the globe over the next year.
Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodphur-Marwar and members of the Rupayan Ensemble.
Dame Jillian Sackler seated amongst guests during dinner.
"Garden & Cosmos" exhibition dinner.
Titled “Garden and Cosmos, The Royal Paintings of Jodphur,” the exhibition was unveiled to patrons and friends of the Sackler and Freer galleries, as well as many Indian notables and dignitaries, at a reception, dinner and auction last Thursday evening. Upon arrival, guests were offered the opportunity to have a colorful turban fitted to their heads. Indian musicians and dancers entertained.

Over time everyone made their way down, down, down into the underground exhibition space of the Sackler to view the art before the long walk through art-filled corridors to the above-ground Freer, where dinner was served overlooking the courtyard garden.
Featured musical guests Rupayan Ensemble from Jodhpur, India serenaded the guests.
Festive table arrangement in the grand tradition of the Raj.
The first course of Grilled Scallop Raita.
Did I say this activity worked up our appetites? It did and we were rewarded. The menu was Grilled Scallop Raita, and Sage Crusted Medallions of Lamb or, for the non-carnivores, Vegetarian Lentil Cakes. A quarter of the guests favored the veggie meal. Dessert was an assortment of cookies, brownies and other sweets. The dinner raised $50,000, which was augmented by proceeds from the after-dinner auction of everything from Hermes scarves, estimated at $375 a piece, to a grand “Taj Hotel Trip” to Jodhpur, Rajasthan, valued at $13,400.
The Freer's gorgeous courtyard garden, the view from dinner.
In addition to the Maharaja, the guests included Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen and Kalpana Sen, Freer and Sackler Galleries director Julian Raby, Ann Nitze, Jillian Sackler, Marie Brenner, David and Jeannie Mulford, James Ulak, Mimi Gates, Sant Chatwal, Pardaman Chatwal, Princess Shivranjani Rajya, William Haseltine, Carolina Barco, Najma Lalji, Arun Singh, Chitra Sarkar, Rajesh Narsule, Sudha Ravi, Bhairavi Patel, Manuel and Ruby Fernandes, Shriganesh Ghole, Ashwini Umarji, Dhanendra Kumar, Calvin Cafritz, Jane Cafritz, Willee and Finley Lewis, Ashok Deshmukh, Azar Assar Kazemi, Kambiz Kazemi, Rabinder Singh, Grace Bender, Dilshad Gogia, Rajkumari Jhala, Pearl Moskowitz, Madhuvanti Ghose, Nunda Ambegoankar, Sharad Tak, Mahinder Tak, Gilbert Kinney, Nancy and Wayne Hunnicutt, Sarva M. Rajendra, Joyce Robbins, Kenneth Robbins, Jasdip Singh, Pranita Jain, Brandon Grove, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Mary McFadden, Lassalle Leffall, Kuldeep Kathari, Michael Pillsbury, Susan Pillsbury, Maha Kaddoura, Lady Sheinwald.
Director Julian Raby with Hart and Nancy Fessenden of New York. Mary McFadden transforms the turban into a beautiful fashion statement!
Bill and Ann Nitze with Dame Jillian Sackler. Sant Chatwal and friends.
Clockwise from top left: Guests head down to the exhibition (2); The steps leading down to the Garden & Cosmos exhibition space in the Sackler's underground exhibition spaces; The "enlightened" stairs up from the underground Sackler to the above ground Freer Gallery.
Ann Nitze, Mary McFadden, and Neil Greentree. Sant Chatwal with David and Jeannie Mulford.
Sant Chatwal, Bill Nitze, and Dame Jillian Sackler amongst friends Curator Debra Diamond.
Dame Jillian Sackler with Arnaud and Alexandra de Borchgrave. His Excellency Ronen Sen, Ambassador of India to the United States and the Honorable David Mulford the Ambassador of the United States to India.
Clockwise from top left: The rooms in the exhibition range in color from saffron to avocado to fuschia; A guest at the dinner gives a closer look to one of the newly discovered paintings from the Indian royal court; Magnifying glasses are on hand for a closer look at the detail of the rare Indian paintings; What yoga can do for you: in meditation a "siddha" - a person perfected by a dozen years of hatha yoga - experiences "the bliss of enlightenment."
Mary McFadden and Karni Singh Jasol, curator of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust. Mahinder Tak dancing to music by the Rupayan Ensemble.
Kalapriya dancer. Neil Greentree, Karni Singh Jasol, David and Jeannie Mulford, and Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodphur-Marwar.
Dame Jillian Sackler, Bill Haseltine, Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodphur-Marwar, Ambassador Ronen Sen, and the Honorable David Mulford. Michael and Susan Pillsbury.
Two of the dancers. Christopher DePaola and Walter Nichols.
Gaj Singh II, the Maharaja of Jodphur-Marwar with friends. Jaap Otte, Head of Fundraising for the Freer-Sackler Galleries.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol Joynt is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.