Eminent Art Historian Dr. B.N. Goswamy: A Scholarly Maestro, Passes Away
In a poignant moment for the art world, we find ourselves mourning the loss of Dr. Brijinder Nath Goswamy, a luminary in the realm of art history whose profound scholarship and fervor for Indian art have left an indelible mark on the field. Born on February 6, 1933, Dr. Goswamy dedicated his life to unraveling the complexities of Indian art and imparting his knowledge to successive generations of students.
A Career of Distinction
B.N. Goswamy stands as a distinguished art historian and critic in India, renowned for his scholarly contributions to Indian miniature paintings, notably the Pahari Painting. His diverse body of work has earned him recognition as an outstanding scholar in the domain of Indian art. Over the past five decades, his exhaustive studies have yielded transformative breakthroughs, resurrecting lost painters' dynasties, and reinstating their identities and reputations.
Early Life and Educational Pursuits
Born in Sargodha, present-day Pakistan, to a Bengali family, Brijinder Nath Goswamy's life took a turn after the partition of India in 1947. His family resettled in Amritsar, Punjab, where he spent the majority of his life. Graduating from Punjab University in 1954, he initially joined the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in 1956 but relinquished his post after two years to pursue a Ph.D. in art and art history at Punjab University. His research focused on the social background influencing the evolution of Kangra painting. His scholarly interests encompass the history of pre-modern Indian art, particularly Pahari and miniature paintings, and the diverse traditions of Indian court paintings.
As Professor Emeritus of Art History at Panjab University, Dr. Goswamy also serves as the Director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Chandigarh. His contributions to Indian arts and literature were recognized with the Padma Shri Award in 1998 and the Padma Bhushan Award in 2008. He has been honored with prestigious fellowships, including the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship (1969), the John D. Rockefeller Fellowship, the Rietberg Award for Outstanding Research in Art History, the Mellon Senior Fellowship, the Tagore National Fellowship, and the Punjab Gaurav Samman (2018).
Dr. Goswamy has shared his expertise as a visiting professor at renowned international universities, including Heidelberg and Zurich in Germany, as well as Berkeley and Los Angeles in the United States. Additionally, he served as a member of the Indian Council of Historical Research's Governing Committee and interim chairman of the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.
A Legacy of Knowledge
Beyond academia, Dr. Goswamy played a pivotal role in curatorial endeavors, museum exhibitions, and cultural initiatives. His ability to narrate stories through the intricate details of Indian miniature paintings bridged the gap between scholarly research and public appreciation of art, making the subject accessible and captivating for a broader audience.
Impact on Students and Colleagues
Dr. Goswamy's influence extended beyond scholarly pursuits, as he mentored numerous students who have since made significant contributions to the world of art history. His intellectual generosity and commitment to nurturing the next generation of scholars ensure a lasting legacy that will shape the discourse on Indian art for years to come.
Colleagues and collaborators remember Dr. Goswamy not only for his academic brilliance but also for his warmth and camaraderie. His ability to foster a sense of community among art historians exemplifies the inclusive spirit that should characterize the pursuit of knowledge.
Condolences and Reflection
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… pic.twitter.com/X1I9S75540— Ranjit Hoskote (@ranjithoskote) November 17, 2023
As we bid farewell to Dr. B.N. Goswamy, the art community reflects on the immense loss it has suffered. While his passing leaves a void that cannot be easily filled, his contributions will continue to guide and inspire future generations of art enthusiasts and scholars.
In this moment of sorrow, we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and the broader community of art historians who have been touched by his wisdom and passion. Dr. B.N. Goswamy's legacy lives on through the pages of his books, the minds of his students, and the galleries that showcase the beauty of Indian art to which he dedicated his life.
- PTC PUNJABI