Priceless Tata heirlooms to see the light of day

Though City Museum Has Permanent Exhibit, Not All 5,000-odd Artefacts Are On Display

Bella Jaisinghani | TNN

The story seems to be the stuff of legend. Over a hundred years ago, the two sons of India’s pioneering industrialist Jamsetji Tata were as different as chalk and cheese. Dorab, the first-born, was a responsible businessman who worked day and night to expand and diversify his father’s empire. The younger, Ratan, was a blithe spirit fond of art and travel and the good life.

Born 12 years apart, both chanced to marry women who patronised art. Each acquired a worthy collection. By a quirk of fate, the brothers remained childless—the present heirs were adopted—and eventually donated their combined collection of 5,000-odd paintings, artefacts, furniture and silverware to the Prince of Wales Museum, renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. The collection goes on display April 12. Museum director Sabyasachi Mukherjee has co-authored a book to describe this almost romantic narrative. He says: “Sir Dorab married Meherbai, described by Sir Stanley Reed, then editor of The Times of India, as ‘one of the clearest brains it has ever been my lot to find in a woman’.’’

Lady Ratan Tata or Navajbai was a stunningly beautiful woman with an equal measure of talent. “Their travels led the couple to steadily acquire paintings and artefacts from Europe and Asia. Sir Ratan bought over a royal palace named York House in London and turned one part of it into a museum,’’ says Mukherjee. Following the example of his younger brother, Sir Dorab donated his entire acquisition to the museum, which has a permanent exhibit of the Tata Collection on the second floor. But there is a selection of Asian and European art that will be shown for the very first time, including the famous painting ‘The Sword of Damocles’ by Antoine Dubost that was recently restored.

Over the past few weeks, attendants have been cleaning the carved furniture and setting out the display, which includes a white ivory rooster with an unending tail. The personal armour of Emperor Akbar seems to look proudly upon the portraits of the first family of Indian business which, like him, had its head and heart in the right place.

  • RAJESH CHOUHAN

    The name TATA means trust,faith respect and all the legends love people of india and their contribution for the love of india since more than 100 years and will continue as long as selfless legends like ratanji and honest tata family of more than 250000 is their to serve the TATAS.and also helping ratanji to serve nation by many ways keeping ordinary and common mans interest in mind they are doing great job and tatas always come forward first in the time of nations difficulty to help citizen.i always salutes all legends of tatas from the bottom of my heart.
    wellwisher
    rajesh chouhan pune

  • KAATY

    Type your comment here…
    TATAS ARE REALLY GREAT PEOPLE.
    NOBODY TO BEAT THEM IN ANY ASPECTS.
    THEY ARE CLEAN,CLEAR AND GOOD IN BODY,MIND & SOUL.THEY SHOULD HELP PARSIS IN GIVING JOBS,HOUSES SO THAT THEY COME UP IN LIFE & SETTLE WELL.THEY ARE NOT CORRUPT & HAVE NO MALICE LIKE OTHER BUSINES TYCOONS.
    GOD HELP THEM & THEY SHOULD HELP OTHER PARSIS IN RETURN SO THAT THE COMMUNITY STANDS UP UNITED.

  • Keki Guard

    Excellent work, firstly i appreciate Parsi khabar to publish this piece of news. the TATA’s have always left a mark on society in what ever they do, be it Sir. Jamsetji, JRD or be it Mr. Ratan Tata. I really salute them. they have made parsees proud.

    The world has noticed this and have bowed down to the Tata’s with respect, i have observed in many high level management meetings there is always a comparisen with the Tata’s. companies have put Tata’s as a benchmark, be it in the field of Employee welfare, innovation, social services……

    I wish Tata’s and very very long and successful years ahead. and am proud to be associated with them with TCS.