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Jehangir Art Gallery

  • Efforts to create spaces for the democratic presentation, discussion and reflection of art in Bombay after independence led to the establishment of the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1952.
  • Jehangir Art Gallery
  • Art GalleryAuditorium HallLibrary
  • Efforts to create spaces for the democratic presentation, discussion and reflection of art in Bombay after independence led to the establishment of the Jehangir Art Gallery in 1952.

    Word Count: 27

  • “Talking about problems, I would also like to mention that the art of Bombay is yet to have a home. With more and more people coming to art shows, it becomes impossible to accommodate all those who would like to see the exhibits in a comfortable manner. Most of the smaller places that are available today for exhibitions cannot display more than forty paintings, and the larger places like the Cowasji Jehangir Hall are not easily available. We are therefore eagerly waiting for the Art Gallery to come up. I hope within this year the artists of Bombay will see the fulfilment of their dreams.” (Chatterji 1950, 12)
    Chatterji’s retrospective of Bombay’s art development of 1949 ended with a clear wish for the new decade, “the Art Gallery”. It would take two more years.
    Finally, after many people had joined forces to lobby for the creation of “a home” for Bombay’s art and artists, the Chief Minister of Bombay State, B.G. Kher, inaugurated the Jehangir Art Gallery on 21 January 1952. The industrialist and philanthropist Sir Cowasji Jehangir, the first Indian president of the Bombay Art Society, donated the entire cost.
    As early as 1946, many artists in Bombay had expressed the need for a public art space and Sir Cowasji Jehangir (1879–1962) had offered 250 000 rupees if the Bombay government provided suitable land for the building of a gallery. However, it took four years for the Bombay municipality to accept Cowasji’s offer and designate the grounds of the spacious Prince of Wales Museum compound in the heart of Bombay.
    The modern structure of the white concrete building, one of the first in India, with its “PCC columns, beams, slabs and portal frames with steel trusses over larger spans” and entrance featuring the “first cantilevered portico in India” (Mehrota 2002, 28) contrasted with the traditional Prince of Wales Museum building, yet complemented it. The MIT-trained architect Durga Shankar Bajpai, son of the Governor of Bombay (1952–1954) and a close family friend of Cowasji Jehangir, and G.M. Bhuta designed “a wonderful fusion of classical planning and space conception with the plasticity of modernism” (Mehrotra 2002, 29).
    The gallery was named after the late son of Sir Cowasji Jehangir, who had died in London in 1944. An oil portrait of Jehangir Cowasji Jehangir (1911–1944) by Walter Langhammer was unveiled in the entrance hall during the inauguration. The donor’s younger son Sri Hirji Jehangir (1915-2000) served as chairman of the Jehangir Art Gallery Trust for almost 40 years.The modern structure is indeed a step towards modernity in architecture, but also symbolises modernity in art presentation with two large halls, namely an Exhibition Gallery for visual art and an Auditorium Hall for concerts, conferences, film screenings, and presentations, plus a library and a shop. The gallery’s accommodation of the Café Samovar as a meeting place and the office of the Bombay Art Society, its bi-weekly changing exhibitions by artists from all over India and, later, its housing of the Chemould Gallery (1963–2007) all attest to the non-elite character of the newly-founded institution, which was unique in India. The model of public-private partnership that characterised the art venue's creation was carried through to its operation.
    The two main halls comprised a “total of 3,400 square feet of floor area and approximately 550 running feet of hanging wall space” and could “together accommodate over 1700 people” (Mehrotra 2002, 29). Extensive renovations in 1990 and recent restructuring have modernised and expanded the infrastructure for art presentations.
    Located on the premises of the former Prince of Wales Museum – in the immediate vicinity of the Artist’s Centre (formerly Bombay Art Society Salon) and on Mahatma Gandhi Road, the main boulevard of Inner South Bombay, less than five minutes’ walk from the Cowasji Jehangir Hall (today National Gallery of Modern Art) in the south and three minutes from the IFL language school-cum-art centre in the north – the Jehangir Art Gallery became “the Art Gallery”; the “home” for Bombay’s art and artists in the 1950s.
    During the second half of the 20th century, the Jehangir Art Gallery became a Bombay landmark, contributing significantly to the image and perception of the city as a metropolis with lively arts initiatives.

    Word Count: 685

  • 61 B, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Bombay (now Mumbai).

  • Jehangir Art Gallery, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).
  • Jehangir Art Gallery, entrance hall, 2007 (Photo: Margit Franz; All Rights Reserved).
    Jehangir Art Gallery, entrance hall: Bust of the donor and founder Sir Cowasji Jehangir between his two sons. On the left Jehangir Cowasji Jehangir, who gave the gallery its name; on the right Sir Hirji Jehangir, former chairman of the Jehangir Art Gallery Trust, 2018 (Photo: Margit Franz, 2018).
    Portrait of Jehangir Cowasji Jehangir by Walter Langhammer (Photo: Margit Franz, 2007).
    Commemorative plaque (Photo: Margit Franz, 2018).
    Art education for the masses: Walter Langhammer presents a USIS (United States Information Service) film at Jehangir Art Gallery, Auditorium Hall, 1952 (© Digital Photo Archive Margit Franz, authorized by the late Kekoo Gandhy; © Gandhy Archive, Mumbai; All Rights Reserved).
  • Chatterji, R. “A Bumper Harvest of Beauty: Art & Artists: 1949 Retrospect.” The Times of India, 1 January 1950, p. 12.

    Franz, Margit. “From Dinner Parties to Galleries: The Langhammer-Leyden-Schlesinger Circle in Bombay – 1940s through the 1950s.” Arrival Cities. Migrating Artists and New Metropolitan Topographies in the 20th Century, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Leuven University Press, 2020, pp. 73–90. Project Muse, doi: 10.1353/book.77990. Accessed 30 March 2021.

    Mehrotra, Rahul, and Sharada Dwivedi. The Jehangir Art Gallery. Established 21st January, 1952. Jehangir Art Gallery, 2002.

    Word Count: 76

  • Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen.
    Private Archive of late Khorshed & Kekoo Gandhy, Mumbai.

    Word Count: 14

  • Margit Franz
  • 21-01-1952
  • Dr. Homi Bhabha, K.H. Hebbar, Kekoo Gandhy, Sir Cowasji Jehangir, Sir Hirji Jehangir, Walter Langhammer, Rudolf von Leyden, Albrecht von Leyden

  • Bombay
  • No
  • Margit Franz. "Jehangir Art Gallery." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Kekoo Minochair Gandhy
    Frame Shop OwnerGalleristArt Collector

    Starting from a cosmopolitan milieu for young local artists, Kekoo and his wife Khorshed Gandhy developed a business model that turned the frame shop into Gallery Chemould.

    Word Count: 27

    Rudolf von Leyden
    GeologistAdvertisement SpecialistJournalistArt CriticArt CollectorCartoonist

    The advertisement expert, Rudolf von Leyden, became a major art critic and art historian in Bombay in the 1940s, advocating an urgent need for modernism in art in post-colonial India.

    Word Count: 30

    Picture of Rudi von Leyden’ s Bust by Sadanand K. Bakre

    The picture of the previously lost and recently located sculpture by Sadanand K. Bakre reflects the relationship between the artist Bakre and the art critic Rudi von Leyden.

    Word Count: 28

    The Leydens: Sculpture, Paintings, Cartoons

    In 1948 Albrecht and Rudi von Leyden sold their personal works of art in order to set up an “Artists' Aid Fund”, which became an institution in the following years.

    Word Count: 29

    One Man exhibition and subsequent trial, Akbar Padamsee
    Court Case

    Akbar Padamsee’s solo exhibition in Bombay in 1954 was overshadowed by his arrest on charge of displaying obscene pictures. The subsequent court case drew support from across the art world.

    Word Count: 30

    GalleryFrame Shop

    Chemould’s history stretches from its beginnings as a manufacturer of chemical mouldings and frames in 1941 over to a hub for art circulation displaying a variety of artists in Bombay.

    Word Count: 30

    Bombay Art Society

    One of the oldest art societies in India founded by colonial rulers, Bombay Art Society showcased art students and professional artists from all over India, including the Progressive Artists of Bombay.

    Word Count: 31

    Open Studio Evenings by Käthe and Walter Langhammer

    The painter Walter Langhammer and his wife Käthe built an informal infrastructure to promote local avant-garde artists and regularly invited them to Open Studio Evenings at their studio.

    Word Count: 29