Author & Historian William Dalrymple’s New Exhibit, The Historian’s Eye at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

‘I’ve been visiting all the places
where this history took place –
the battlefields and ruins, the mosques, sufi shrines and temples,
the paradise gardens and pleasure grounds,
the barrack blocks and townhouses,
the crumbling Mughal havelis
and the palaces and forts’
—William Dalrymple
Willian Dalrymple, Untitled, 2017-19

After his much-celebrated debut show in 2016 titled the Writer’s Eye, Vadehra Art Gallery is pleased to announce renowned author and historian William Dalrymple’s return to the lens in a stunning exhibition of black-and-white photographs, chronicling people and places, and the inter-relationships among them, in The Historian’s Eye.

William Dalrymple, Dawn over Skardu, Pakistan I, 2017-19
William Dalrymple, Dawn over Skardu, Pakistan II, 2017-19

The Historian’s Eye presents a photographic record of William Dalrymple’s travels across the country over the last two years while researching his latest book titled The Anarchy, published by Bloomsbury in September 2019. It features a unique set of images of the places where art and history were being made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and includes a small selection of photographs from modern-day Pakistan.

William Dalrymple is well-known and recognised for his writing, but photography was his first love, the artistic outlet of his youth. The purchase of a Samsung Edge camera phone in recent years led to his re-discovery of the medium. Dalrymple’s approach to photography – facilitated here by the mobility and immediacy of a camera phone – is intuitive and instinctive, while his aesthetic reflects the sensibility of polished, economical prose, resulting in stark, high-contrast images pared down to their essence.

William Dalrymple, The Swing, Mehrauli Archeological Park, Delhi, 2017-19

Photographs are intrinsically bound to place and time, but Dalrymple’s images create a wrinkle in time that highlight an intermingling of the monumental past and fleeting present. Each photograph reveals a narrative tension within itself, between stillness and movement, history and reality. A boy skips down the passage, a cyclist turns at the gate, a hawk circles the dome and three generations of a Kalash family come together in a single frame: the past by turn is present, unveiled, subverted and transformed in the contemporary moment through the historian’s lens.

William Dalrymple, Heading home, Shyok gorges, Pakistan, 2017-19

ABOUT THE ARTIST

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland in 1965, is a Scottish historian and writer, an art historian and curator, as well as a prominent broadcaster and critic. He was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was first history exhibitioner then senior history scholar.

William’s books include From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East; Nine Lives: in Search of the Sacred in Modern India; The Last Mughal; White Mughals; and Return of a King: The Battle of Afghanistan (which has been shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper and PEN Hessel-Tiltman prizes).

William Dalrymple is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Asiatic Society, and is a founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, the Guardian, the TLS, and the New York Review of Books, and is the India correspondent of the New Statesman.

The exhibition will continue until October 31.