Exhibiting the Imperial Image

Christopher Bayly, organiser of a major new exhibition on the British and India at the National Portrait Gallery, discusses its making and the complexities of presenting the myths and realities behind the Raj.

Anyone who has been involved in the organisation of a large art-historical exhibition will sympathise with the problems of Professor Jonathan Alexander who wrote some years ago in this journal about 'The Age of Chivalry' exhibition at the Royal Academy, the very title of which stirred considerable scholarly controversy. In what sense, some people asked, could the period between 1200 and 1450 meaningfully be considered an 'age of chivalry?' Yet the word 'chivalry' was essential to the popular appeal of the show.

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