Saturday, August 1, 2020

Inside Rashtrapati Bhavan Library: Two Paintings and a Love Story

By Praveen Siddharth
The Creation of Man by the British artist Glyn Warren Philpot shows a male figure in repose, two hands reaching down, and fire engulfing him from above. It combines new artistic influences from Philpot’s travels, and his internal struggle with his own homosexuality.
Tucked away in a corner of the imposting Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India is a library. Inside are some old secrets hidden in plain sight. Over a fireplace hangs a painting titled The Creation of Man. It’s a naked male figure in repose,with two hands reaching down from the heavens towards his head, and fire engulfing him from above. It’s a distinctly odd choice for a Presidential library, especially considering that the painter, Glyn Warren Philpot (1884-1937) was an acclaimed portrait painter. Even more intriguing is that fact that, unlike most of the other art at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the paintings in the Library were commissioned for the building, when it was still being constructed. So, this painting was commissioned specifically by Edwin Lutyens himself, for this space. [More]