ANANDA K. COOMARASWAMY (Sri Lankan) (1871 – 1947)
The pioneer historian of Indian art and foremost interpreter of Indian culture was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, of mixed Sinhalese and British parentage. He was educated at Wycliffe College and the University of London where he earned a doctorate in geology. He was named as the director of mineral surveys of the then Ceylon in 1903 but soon transferred his interests to the arts of Ceylon and India. In 1910-1911 he was put in charge of the art section of the Great United Provinces Exhibition in Allahabad, India. Six years later when the Dennison W.Ross collection was donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Coomaraswamy was appointed as the Fellow for research in Indian, Persian and Muslim Art a post that he held until his death. He enhanced the Museum’s Indian collections but was primarily concerned with scholarship and contributed extensively to learned journals throughout the world. He was concerned with the meaning of a work of art within a traditional culture and examining the religious and philosophical beliefs that determine the origin and evolution of a particular artistic style. A careful scholar, he also established an art historical framework for the study of the development of Indian Art. His publications ranged over Indian music, dance, Vedic literature and philosophy as well as art. He also contributed to Islamic and Far Eastern studies. Coomaraswamy’s definitive ‘Catalogues of the Indian Collections’ in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was published in five volumes during 1923-’30. The ‘History of Indian and Indonesian Art’ (1927) remains the standard text in the field. The ‘Transformation of Nature in Art’ (1934), ‘The Figures of Speech’ and ‘The Figures of Thought’ (1946) are collections of essays expressing his views on the relationship of art to life, traditional art and the ideological parallels between the arts of the East and the Pre-Renaissance West.
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see also Pen Portraits-23
President Coolidge once hosted a group of guests on the Presidential yacht, one among these wore an abbreviated modish skirt of the era. She sat besides the President trying to amuse him with her repertoire of stories. As she continued with her chat she would tug at her skirt to pull it over her knees. Having suffered this with a stony face laconic Cal said,”What you need’s a rug.”
When Calvin Coolidge was the VP, Channix N. Cox, who succeeded him as governor of Mass., called on him and was amazed to see the steady stream of visitors he could see and also finish his work at five o’clock. Cox had always found he was held at his desk as late as nine p.m.
“How come the difference?” he asked his predecessor.
“You talk back,” came the reply.
President Cal was never a man to waste words. While campaigning for election, he hit one whistle-stop where the total population was about three hundred. He took a look at the crowd and went back to his private compartment with a comment, “ The crowd is too big for an anecdote and too small for an oration.”
Shortly after his election as President ,’Silent’ Cal was asked the secret of his success in politics. Drawled the President,”it is very simple, I just listened my way along.”
On an occasion at a Washington dinner party he found himself seated next to Alice Longworth, who was determined to draw out the taciturn President out of his shell. After several unsuccessful attempts she observed,” these formal dinners obviously bore you to death,Mr. President. Why do you attend so many of them?”
President Coolidge helping himself with a piece of steak, said,” Well a man has got to eat somewhere.”
President Coolidge was tight with words and his money. As Will Rogers noted ‘Calvin Coolidge never told jokes but had more subtle humor than almost any public man I ever met.” Cal got married to one who was noted for blithe spontaneous laughter,’ as natural and unaffected as sunlight…’ Besides she was a graduate of the Univ. of Vermont and taught at a school for the dead in Northampton. Recognizing this sharp contrast the future President observed, “having taught the dead to hear, Miss Goodhue might perhaps cause the mute to speak.”
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