The Story Behind One of the Greatest Collections of Indian & Islamic Art – Edith and Stuart Cary Welch | Great Collectors

London | 25 October 2023

'This collection points to how central art was to their lives and collecting and finding beautiful things and living with them.'

Stuart Cary Welch (1928 – 2008) was a ground-breaking scholar and visionary curator, whose contribution for over half a century to the study of the art and aesthetics of the Islamic World, and India in particular, was second to none. A pioneering art historian, his career as a magnetic lecturer at Harvard (1960-1995) was complemented by his role as curator of Islamic and Indian Art at Harvard Art Museums and a special consultant in charge of the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Twinned with the popularity of his publications was his ability as a great communicator, and this dynamism inspired many of today’s generation of curators in the field. Cary Welch also lent frequently to museums – as is demonstrated by the exhibition history of the lots offered in the auction – and his generous donations to Harvard Art Museums and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have given these institutions outstanding additions to their permanent collections.

Edith and Cary Welch's son, Thomas Welch, tells us more about the couple's history of collecting and deep connection with the world of Islamic and Indian art, as well as what it was like to grow up surrounded with this silver and art that was actively used as part of the household.

Welch’s acquisitions were culturally and geographically wide-ranging and included works from Persia, India, China, Japan and beyond. The live auction takes place on 25 October at Sotheby's London.

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