Introduction to Gayer-Anderson Collection of Indian Paintings
We have a fine and an exceptional example in the history of fine arts. This example is exceptional in the sense that it is though known as singular but it comprises the two and they are Major R.G. Gayer-Anderson and Colonel T.G. Gayer-Anderson, the great twins who made Lavenham their workplace. Lavenham is a historical village of United Kingdom, which is at present known as a perfect example of a medieval wool town.
This is an astonishing fact that the art historians and the other connoisseurs of Indian and Egyptian art could not evaluate the great contribution in the field of art by these bachelor twins. Both brothers were not only the disciplined military officers but also great collectors of art objects, writers, illustrators and above all the persons of great vision. Major was also a poet influenced with Keats and friend of famous poet Stephen Spender. The different dimensions of the artistic personalities of the twins are still waiting to be unveiled.
The elder Brother Major R.G. Gayer Anderson (Robert Grenville Anderson, Pasha) after qualifying as a Doctor at Guy's Hospital, became an officer in the Royal Army, Medical Corps. He received his commission in the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1903. He was lent to the Egyptian Government in 1905 by the British Government and spent the rest of his carrier in service of Egypt, in both military and civil capacities, reaching the rank of "Lewa" (Major General) and having the title of Pasha conferred upon him. He collected Egyptian objects of great significance. They are preserved in Gayer-Anderson Pasha museum in Cairo. He is the author of "Legends of the Bait al-Kretliya" (Luzac, London) and Christeros, poems (Wilding, Shrewsbury). He died in Lavenham in 1945.
Colonel T.G. Gayer Anderson (Thomas Gayer Hayer-Anderson), the younger twin entered in the Royal Military Academy ("the Shop") in Woolwich in 1898 and received commission in the Royal Field Artillery in 1899 and later passed through the Staff College. He served for five years with his twin in Egyptian Army and associated with him in some of his bequests.
He saw active service in the Boer War in 1900-02 and after a time at Woolwich was seconded to the Egyptian army from 1911-1914. He served in Europe from 1914-18 and after two years in Constantinpole. He was promoted Colonel in 1922. He had a spell at Staff College, Camberley followed by three years in Pune on the General Staff before he retired in 1929.
He took part in both wored wars but returned to the active list for the Second World War. He also saw active service in Boer War in a punitive Expedition in the Sudan in 1913 and was appointed C.M.G. and awarded a D.S.O. He was eight times mentioned in the dispatches. He died in Lavenham in 1960.
Both brothers were great art lovers and they collected miniatures paintings and several other art objects from different regions of India and Egypt and donated their collections to different museums. The younger twin collected Indian paintings from India during his stay in the country i.e. 1926-30.
The Gift Gayer-Anderson gave to the world of Art
Major donated some unique art objects to the different museums of U.K. including the famous Gayer-Anderson Cat which is now kept at display in British Museum. He also donated several art objects to the different museums of U.K., Sweden, Greece and America. He collected more than 12000 art objects from Middle East and Southeast Asia.
The largest part of this collection is preserved in Fitzwilliam museum Cambridge. Major died in 1945 in Lavenham and after his death his brother Colonel T.G. Gayer-Anderson started the work of making correspondence with the different provincial museums of U.K. and the other museums out of Britain for donating the art objects collected by the twins.
In 1952, he donated his collection of Indian miniature paintings and drawings to the Victoria and Albert Museum London.
In 1954, he donated 220 Indian miniature paintings and drawings to the Commonwealth of Australia in the memory of his two Australian friends. This collection was unique in several respects. It was first kept in the National Library of Australia and later transferred to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
He donated the larger part of the collection of Indian paintings and drawings to V&A London. This collection has 409 Indian paintings and drawings. He also donated the other art objects to V&A and the other associated museums.
All these art objects including the Indian paintings and drawings, which were donated by the twins to the different museums and libraries of U.K. and abroad, are known as the art objects of Gayer-Anderson collection.
Indian Miniatures from the Collection of Gayer Anderson in Victoria & Albert Museum
Indian Miniatures from the Collection of Gayer Anderson in Cairo
Indian Miniatures from the Collection of Gayer Anderson in Bodlean library London
Indian Miniatures from the Collection of Gayer Anderson in National Gallery of Australia, Canberra