COOMARASWAMY, Ananda Kentish

COOMARASWAMY, Ananda Kentish (Kumārasvāmi). Colombo 22.8.1877 — Needham, MA 9.9.1947. Sri Lankan/British Art Historian and Indologist in the U.S.A. Son of Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy (1834–1879, Sri Lankan Tamil and a noted lawyer and statesman) and Elizabeth Clay Beeby (she came from Kent, therefore “Kentish”), lost early his father and grew up in England. Educated at Wycliffe College, studies of geology and botany at London Uni­ver­sity. In 1903 Director of the Mineral Survey of Ceylon, during this work became interested in ancient art. D.Sc. 1904 London. From 1917 the first Keeper of Indian Art in Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 1932 Research Fellow in Indian, Buddhist and Muhammadan Art there, until his death. At the same time also Lecturer at Harvard in 1917-18 and at New York University in 1928-29 and 1931. Several times in India doing fieldwork. Married 1902 Ethel Mary Partridge (1872–1952), divorced 1913, then 1913 Alice Ethel Richardson (1889–1958), again divorced, now married 1922 Stella Bloch (1897–1999), divorced 1930 and married Luisa Runstein, two children from the second marriage and one from the fourth.

Coomaraswamy was the great pioneer of Indian and South-East Asian art history, one of the first to study and appreciate it independently of Western art. Of particular importance was his 1927 book. Under his guidance the Boston Museum achieved a fine collection of Indian art. He was also interested in iconography, Vedic religion, Rigvedic interpretation, Hinduism and Buddhism, thought here his contribution was often rather speculative. In the connection of art history he also contributed to Sanskrit lexicography.

Publications: A great number of articles and reviews (Art.As., JAOS, IHQ, JRAS, etc), exhibition catalogues, etc. since the beginning of the century, beginning with “Notes on Paddy cultivation ceremonies in the Ratnapura district”, JRAS-CB 18:56, 1905, 413-428, and “Some survivals in Sinhalese art”, JRAS-CB 19:57, 1906, 72-89.

The Aims of Indian Art. 2 p. 23 pl. Broad Campden 1908; Selected examples of Indian Art. Broad Campden 1911; Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon. 22+256 p. 195 ill. L. & Edinburgh 1913; Bibliographies of Indian Art. 56 p. Boston 1925.

The Influence of Greek on Indian Art. Broad Campden 1908 (a small fascicle).

Medieval Sinhalese Art. Broad Campden 1908, 2nd ed. 16+344 p. N.Y. 1956.

The Indian Craftsman. 16+130 p. L. 1909, 2nd rev. ed. 95 p. N. D. 1989.

Indian Drawings. 1-2. 3+32+34 p. 29+26 pl. Broad Campden 1911-12; Rajput Painting. 1-2. 4+83 p. 77 pl. L. 1916.

With E. Gill: Viśvakarmā: examples of Indian architecture, sculpture, painting, handicraft. 30 p. 103 ill. L. 1914.

Bronzes from Ceylon, chiefly in the Colombo Museum. 31 p. 28 pl. Colombo 1914.

Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism. 370 p. L. 1916.

Translated with G. K. Duggirala: Nandikeśvara, Abhinaya Darpaṇa. The mirror of gesture. 59 p. 15 pl. Cambridge, Mass. 1917.

Catalogue of the Indian Collections in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 150 p. 86 pl. Boston 1923; id. part 4. Jaina Paintings. 75 p. 39 pl. Boston 1924; 5. Rajput Painting. 272 p. 132 pl. Cambridge, Mass. 1926; 6. Mughal Painting. 114 p. 74 pl. Cambridge, Mass. 1930 (and more?).

Les miniatures orientales de la collection Goloubew en Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 113 p. 88 pl. Ars As. 13. P. & Bruxelles 1929.

History of Indian and Indonesian Art. 295 p. 128 pl. N.Y. 1927; German transl. Geschichte der indischen und indonesischen Kunst. Lp. 1927.

– “Indian Architectural Terms”, JAOS 48, 1928, 250-275.

Yakṣas. 1-2. 43+84 p. 50 pl. Smithsonian Inst. Freer Gallery of Art Publ. 2926 & 3059. Washington 1928-31.

A New Approach to Vedas. 9+116 P. L. 1933; The Rig-Veda as Land-Náma-Book. 8+39 p. L. 1935; Time and Eternity. 140 p. Ascona 1947.

The Transformation of Nature in Art. 245 p. Cambridge, Mass. 1934.

– “Angel and Titan: An Essay in Vedic Ontology”, JAOS 55, 1935, 373-419; further articles on the Vedas in JAOS in the 1930s and 1940s.

Elements of Buddhist Iconography. 6+96 p. 15 pl. Cambridge, Mass. 1935; La sculpture de Bodhgaya. 4+72 p. 60 pl. Arts as. 18. P. 1935.

Spiritual authority and temporal power in the Indian theory of government. 88 p. A.O.S. 22. New Haven 1942; Hinduism and Buddhism. 86 p. N.Y. 1943

With I. B. Horner: The Living Thoughts of Gotama the Buddha. 227 p. L. 1948.

Introduction to Indian art. Edited by Mrs. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. 2nd ed. 104 p. 32 pl. 1969.

Fundamentals of Indian Art. With an introd. by Durai Raja Singam. Vol. 1. Themes and Concepts. 103 p. Jaipur 1985.

R. Lipsey (ed.): Coomaraswamy. 1. Selected papers. Traditional Art and Symbolism. 618 p. 2. Selected papers. Metaphysics. 496 p. 3. His Life and Work. 329 p. Bollingen Series 89. 1977; M. W. Meister (ed.), A.K.C.: Essays in architectural theory. 23+122 p. N.D. 1995.

The Vedas. Essays in translation and exegesis. 15+160 p. Beckenham 1976 (repr. of New Approach and Land-Nama-Book).

Sources: *M. Bagchee: A. C.: a study. 205 p. Varanasi 1977; *R.E., “The Writings of A.K.C.”, Ars Islamica 9, 1942, 125-142; *M. Falk, “Indologie auf den Wegen und Abwegen vergleichender Religionsforschung”, Polski Biul. Or. 1, 1937, 18-37 (criticism); *M. Fowler, Art. As. 10, 1947, 241-244; *R. Lipsey: Coomaraswamy, his life and work. Princeton 1977; *V.S. Naravane, “The Perennial Philosophy of C.”, Indian Horizons 26:3, 1977, 17-29; *D. Norman, “The last time I saw Coomaraswamy”, JISOA 16, 1948, i-iv, with photo; *R. Parimoo, “Coomaraswamy and Indian Art History”, JOIB 32:1-2, 1982, 124-130; *A. Ranganathan, “A.K.C.’s contribution to aesthetics”, Indian Horizons 16, 1967, 17-25; *A. Ranganathan, “C. A Tribute”, Indian Horizons 26:1, 1977, 11-15; *R. Raphael, “Metaphysical basis of C.’s aesthetics”, Indian Horizons 25:3-4, 1976, 9-21; *R. Raphael, A.C. Spiritual Frontiers of Art, Literature and Culture. 240 p. Madras 197?; *P. Roy, “A return to Rhetoric: A.C.’s Philosophy of Art”, Visvabh. Quart. 42, 1976-77, 238-260; *P.S. Sastri: Anand K. Coomaraswamy. 203 p. N.D. 1974; R.J.Z.W[erblowsky], Numen 27, 1980, 189; several *memorial articles and a photo in JRAS-CB N.S. 23, 1977 (43 p.); Directory of American Scholars. 1st ed. 1942; Wikipedia with 3 portraits and further references.

*James S. Crouch, A Bibliography of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy. 430 p. Delhi 2002.

Four special volumes: Art and Thought. Issued in Honor of the late Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Edited by K. Bharatha Iyer. 259 p. London 1947; Homage to Kalayogi Ananda Coomaraswamy. Edited by S. Durai Raja Singham. Kuala Lumpur 1948; A. K. Coomaraswamy Commemoration Volume. Part 3 (parts 1–2 apparently JISOA 15–16). Edited by A. Tagore and S. Kramrisch. 124 p. JISOA 17. Calcutta 1949; A. K. Coomaraswamy Centenary Volume. JNSI 49, Varanasi 1978.

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