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Travel to Northern India: The Lucknow Museum's Display of Imperial Statuary

What to do with the imperial bricabrac? You can let it stand, smash it up, send it home, or--as in the case here, of Uttar Pradesh--collect at least a bit of it in a museum.

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Northern India: The Lucknow Museum's Display of Imperial Statuary picture 1

The gallery is like a brick barn, but consider the alternatives.

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Victoria with sceptre and globe.

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Definitely not amused.

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Then again, you could do worse.

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Stiff upper lip, or perhaps she's at the races.

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Yet another, this one on the baleful side. Where, precisely, did all these statues stand? The museum doesn't say, but there certainly was a bronze Victoria in Lucknow's central park. The kiosk survives.

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George V.

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Same, in cameo.

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A curiously exophthalmic Sir John Woodburn, Governor of Bengal, 1898-1902. He died that year, age 54. A few years earlier, he had been the first British adminsitrator to commit substantial funds to stabilize the sun temple at Konarak.

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Unidentified, though listed by the museum as General Lasad, Commissioner of Avadh. There does not appear to have been any such person.

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Here, on the other hand, we're on safe ground with Anthony Patrick Macdonnell, Lt. Governor of the Northwest Provinces and Commissioner of Oudh, 1895-1901. Known as "the Bengal Tiger," he had a prickly personality that prompted one Indian Civil Service colleague to observe: "If Antony and another are cast away in an open boat and only one of them can live, it will not be Antony who is eaten". (Philip Mason, The Guardians, vol. 2 of The Men who Ruled India, 1963, p. 188) Although even Curzon found him somewhat cold and lacking in "generosity" of character, he was glad to have him. Writing from India to a colleague in London, Curzon declared: "It is such a God-send in this pigmy-ridden country to find a man who at least has mental stature." (D. Gilmour, Curzon, 1994, 157). Macdonnell left India for a position as Home Secretary for Ireland. This statue is presumably the one erected in Lucknow in 1907 at the expense of local landlords. If so, it was done by George Frampton, whose other works include the vastly more frequently seen statue of Nurse Edith Cavell that stands outside the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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Bust of Harcourt Butler, Deputy Commissioner of Lucknow, 1906-08, then Lt. Governor of the United Provinces, 1918-23.

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Sir Harcourt waves to the non-existent crowd.

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Outside the gallery, an uncredited and farfetched work of counter-propaganda. Nehru and Rajendra Prasad rush to protect a fellow Indian attacked by mounted British officials.


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