Honorary Curator and Former Keeper of Eastern Art

Dr Andrew Topsfield

Dr Andrew Topsfield


Research summary
My research has focused mainly on Indian art of the Mughal period (16th to 19th century), particularly the Rajasthani schools of painting, among which I have made a special study of the development of court painting at Udaipur. Other topics of past or current research have included 19th century British photography in India and the history of Indian board games.  I am currently writing an introductory book about the Ashmolean’s collections of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian sculpture, painting and decorative arts, which will include many previously unpublished works acquired in the last thirty years.   

Andrew Topsfield is an Honorary Curator after retiring as Keeper of Eastern Art in 2016. He joined the Department of Eastern Art in 1984 as Assistant Keeper with responsibility for the Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian collections and was appointed Keeper in 2009. Previously he worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum as an Assistant Keeper in the Indian Department from 1978-84. 

He read Oriental Studies at Oxford and took an MA in South Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, where he began research in the field of Mughal period painting. His Oxford doctoral thesis on Mewar court painting was later published as Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar (2002). In 2012 he received the Colonel James Tod Award at Udaipur for his publications on Rajasthani painting. He is a former Trustee of the Ancient India and Iran Trust, Cambridge, and a retired Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. 

Select publications

1980 Paintings from Rajasthan in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria

1981 Sahibdin’s Gita-Govinda illustrations, Chhavi-2: Rai Krishnadasa Felicitation Volume, ed. A. Krishna, Benares: Bharat Kala Bhavan, pp.231-38

1984 Ketelaar’s embassy and the farangi theme in the art of Udaipur, Oriental Art, XXX, 4, pp.350-67

1985 The Indian game of Snakes and Ladders, Artibus Asiae, XLVI, 3, pp. 203-14

1987 Indian art in the Ashmolean Museum with J.C. Harle, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum

1990 (reprinted 2009) The City Palace Museum, Udaipur: Paintings of Mewar court life, Ahmedabad: Mapin

1990 Eugene Impey at Mount Abu and Jodhpur, History of Photography, XIV, 3, pp.251-74

1990 A dispersed Gita Govinda series in the Mewar-Deccani style, Makaranda: Essays in honour of Dr. James C. Harle, ed. C. Bautze-Picron, Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, pp.215-2

1991/92 Indian paintings and drawings from the collection of Howard Hodgkin  with Milo Cleveland Beach (Thames and Hudson, New York, 1991, and London, 1992; reprinted London: British Museum, 1994)

1994 Indian paintings from Oxford collections, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum

1995 The royal paintings inventory at Udaipur, Indian art and connoisseurship: Essays in honour of Douglas Barrett, ed. J. Guy, Ahmedabad: Mapin, pp.188-99

1996 Eugene Impey in Rajasthan, History of Photography, XX, 1, pp.94-97

2000 Court painting in Rajasthan (Ed), Bombay: Marg Publications

2002 Court painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, Artibus Asiae Supplementum XLIV, Zurich: Museum Rietberg

2004 Arts of Mughal India: Studies in honour of Robert Skelton (Ed., with R. Crill and S. Stronge), London: Victoria and Albert Museum and Ahmedabad: Mapin

2014 (reprinted 2014)  In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India (Ed), London: Philip Wilson

2006 The art of play: Board and card games of India (Ed), Bombay: Marg Publications

2006 Snakes and Ladders in India: Some further discoveries, Artibus Asiae, LXVI, 1, pp.143-79

2008 (reprinted 2013) Paintings from Mughal India, Oxford: Bodleian Library

2012 Visions of Mughal India: The collection of Howard Hodgkin, Oxford: Ashmolean Museum

2015 Rajasthani Drawings in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art with J. Mittal, Hyderabad: Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art