A Passage from India

Keith Nurse examines a collection of Indian art at the Powis Castle in Wales.

The finest British Collection of Indian art outside London – the so-called 'Indian curiosities' assembled by Robert Clive, Lord Clive of Plassey (1725-74) and his family – is now, for the first time, on public display almost in its entirety at Powis Castle, near Welshpool in mid-Wales.

The National Trust's new museum, housed in what was formerly the billiard room of this romantic Welsh border castle, is in itself an important tribute to the great soldier- administrator known to posterity as 'Clive of India'. Moreover, it offers revealing glimpses of the nature of British society in eighteenth-century India.

Previously, no more than about a fifth of the collection was available for public viewing. Now, in an evocative decorative setting known loosely as 'Hindoo' or 'Indo-Gothic', its significance can be fully understood, for as a record of its age it stands almost alone. All rival collections have been, in one way or another, dispersed or destroyed.

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