Art historian BN Goswamy dies at 90

Art historian BN Goswamy dies at 90

New Delhi, Nov 17 (PTI) Renowned art historian and writer Brijender Nath Goswamy died at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) Chandigarh on Friday. He was 90.

Goswamy had lung infection, family friend and theatre artist Neelam Man Singh told PTI.

'It wasn't a prolonged lingering illness. He was having problem breathing for the last one month, but that was about it,' she added.

Born on August 15, 1933, the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee was best-known for his works on the Pahari style of paintings.

Goswamy quit the prestigious civil services in 1958 to follow a career in academics and research.

Fondly known as BNG in art circles, Goswamy authored more than 26 books on the subjects of Pahari paintings, miniature paintings, court painters, and masters of Indian paintings among others.

Goswamy's latest book, 'The Indian Cat: Stories, Paintings, Poetry and Proverbs', explores all the varied ways in which cats have made themselves a home in art, literature, and speech. He had delivered a lecture on the subject on October 26 in Chandigarh.

Singh remembered the professor of Art History at Panjab University as someone who was 'articulate' and a 'great listener'.

'He was my teacher of art history. His wife was like an elder sister to me. I was very impressed by his gentle manners and that he was a great listener. I was really fascinated by the idea of art history. He was very articulate and gave us a window to look at how miniature paintings were made, how modernism worked,' she said.

Goswamy's wife, Karuna, was also an art historian. She died in 2020.

He is survived by daughter Malavika.

Message of condolence poured in on social media with people remembering Goswamy as a 'rigorous scholar' and a 'warm, elegant, empathetic presence'.

'Devastated to hear of the death of my beloved friend and mentor, BN Goswamy, India's greatest art historian and one of the most wisest and most brilliant men I ever met. He was a kind friend, a generous mentor, a rigorous scholar, a fabulous writerand an entrancing speaker who every year hypnotised the audiences @JaipurLitFest with his wit, subtlety and erudition. He was irreplaceable and will be hugely missed. Om shanti!,' writer-historian William Dalrymple posted on X.

Poet Ranjit Hoskote recalled the 'incomparable scholar' as someone who touched his life with his presence.

'As if these times were not clouded enough, today opens with the sad, sad news that Professor B N Goswamy has passed into the ages. BNG, as he signed his letters, was an incomparable scholar, at home in Sanskrit, Farsi, Urdu, German and English. His deep probe into the social history and family atelier structures of the Pahari painters, in the 1960s, revolutionised the study of a field opened up by AK Coomaraswamy, WG Archer and Karl Khandalavala. BNG's scholarship was illuminated by his delight in the artistic imagination, in the quirks of image and the surprises nested within narrative. He was a rasika, a sahridaya,' Hoskote shared.

He added that Goswamy 'bridged the gap between expert culture and a popular audience with infectious enthusiasm and persuasive brilliance'. PTI MAH BK BK

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