Cornell University

SAP Seminar Series: "Pedophilia in the Archive - The Gayer Anderson Twins and their Indian Painting Collection" by Natalia Di Pietrantonio

Monday, November 20, 2017 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08 Central Campus

The Gayer Anderson twins, Robert Grenville Gayer Anderson and Thomas Gayer Anderson, collected Indian miniature paintings during the height of the British Raj in the 1920s. Unlike early British colonial officers in the eighteenth century, local Indic rulers never gifted paintings or objects to the Gayer Andersons. Rather, the brothers collected based on the premise of “taste,” which was inflected by their sexual desires. In this talk, I discuss the Gayer Anderson twins in order to investigate how museum personnel either suppressed or heralded the figuration of desire within their Indian miniature painting collection and within their drawings. Through which, I question colonial and national discourses that bound erotica and decadency to Indian miniatures, and to their respective rulers more generally, and not to individual European collectors and agents of empire who participated in a sexual and racialized economy while in service.

Her doctoral dissertation, "Erotic Visions: Poetry, Literature, and Book Arts from Avadh India (1754-1857)," focuses on erotic miniatures such as representations of female nudes and amorous couples produced in and around the Indo-Islamic court of Avadh, India. Funding for her research has included Institute of Historical Research-Mellon Pre-dissertation Fellowship, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship from their Islamic Department, American Institute for India Studies (AIIS) Junior Research Fellowship and the Asher Family Fellowship, American Institute of Pakistan Studies Fellowship, and a Provost Diversity Fellowship. Prior to her studies at Cornell, Natalia earned her B.A. in art history at the University California, Davis in 2008. In 2011, she received her M.A. from Columbia University in South Asian Studies.


Event Type



Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies




Free Admission

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Valerie Foster Githinji

Contact Phone



Natalia Di Pietrantonio

Speaker Affiliation

South Asia Program

Disability Access Information

Available Upon Request

Open To


Google Calendar iCal Outlook

Recent Activity