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Elizabeth Brunner







Fairy Tales around

16th June 1996...

her stay at Baroda, Gujarat



Sunday, the 16th of June 1996...  

Elizabeth and her mother had come back in 1938. In London they had met via Dr. Radhakrishna (whom they knew well) H.H. the Maharaja of Baroda. Although by then, they had planned and fixed appointments for exhibitions in Paris and Munich, the aged royal gentleman could persuade them to cancel their commitments. On his invitation they travelled on board an Italian vessel to India.

                This ship was due to leave in three weeks time. Those were the three weeks Elizabeth and her mother used to travel through Germany, and stay in Hungary with their family.

                As the old Maharaja of Baroda had died, Elizabeth and her mother were moved to an artist's guest house in the lovely Zoological Park of Baroda. True to their nature, both mother and daughter fulfilled the late Maharaja's wish. They painted people and place.

            But Dagmar carried Elizabeth back to England and asked: "how long were you in England?" Elizabeth said, "I believe, altogether in England and Europe we were for about four weeks. Plus those three weeks in Hungary." Dagmar, "so after about two months, you started your journey back to India?" Elizabeth, "yes, on the same ship as H.H. the Maharaja of Baroda was travelling." Dagmar asked, "and, when you came back to India, did you meet Tagore then?" Elizabeth, "yes." Dagmar, "so you went straight from Bombay to Santiniketan?" Elizabeth answered, "no. We had to stay in Baroda for some time."

            Dagmar asked, "but why?" Elizabeth continued, "because His Highness had advised us to go straight to Baroda. He would follow. He had some work to attend to in Bombay. He would then show us personally the sights in Baroda which he wanted to have immortalised for future generations. The historical sights as well as the way people lived in and around Baroda State. They put us up in the Royal Guest House.

            The next morning during breakfast we got the news that the Maharaja had had a stroke in Bombay. Now Baroda had signed a contract with the Britishers that we will be travelling and painting there. So once we knew that we would not be shown the sights of Baroda by the Maharaja, which we were supposed to be painting, mother looked all over and painted all the palaces and ancient places of Baroda." Dagmar asked, "did your mother ever paint the Maharaja of Baroda?" Elizabeth, "no. But I did." Dagmar, "where are all these paintings?" Elizabeth, "all in the Museum of Baroda." Dagmar, "ah, nice, that is where they belong."  

Woman spinning, Patiala

            Elizabeth carried on, "then my mother decided ... You see the Maharaja on his dying bed divided everything between all his children. He had five sons and one daughter from his second wife. And one son from his first wife, who would be the successor to the throne. And he said, 'I have brought along with me from Europe two ladies, and I am worried about them, look after them.' But he should have said something more definite. Because the first son had never been really interested in arts.   -   We attended his coronation, though.  

Sister & child, Royputana


Young Rajasthani Girl

            So we were given over to the Museum of Baroda and its Director and we no longer had anything to do with the Royalties. Mother enjoyed painting the old palaces, ancient temples, avenues and sights of the State of Baroda. They are now all in the Museum of Baroda." Dagmar put in, "what a wonderful reason for me to go to Baroda once again!" And Elizabeth carried on, "so, we stayed for about three and a half months in Baroda and then we passed over all our paintings to the Director. The agreement was that the ready paintings were handed over and the sketches remained with us."


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Copyright Dagmar Barua 1997 Sass Brunner East West Trust, 75, Rabindra Nagar, New Delhi - 110 003