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Indophile, writer, collector Lance Dane passes away

New Delhi, May 16 - Aesthete, collector, writer and numismatics scholar Lance Dane, a close collaborator of Mulk Raj Anand, passed away at the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai Wednesday. He was 89 years old.

Dane was admitted to the Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai 10 days ago with a sudden illness, long-time friend and artist Anjolie Ela Menon said. His funeral was held Wednesday.

An Englishman, who adopted India as his homeland and became an Indian citizen, Dane was an authoritative scholar on Indian iconography and aesthetics with several projects, studies and publications to his credit.

The Englishman, who worked with Mulk Raj Anand, was responsible for the visual inputs of the earliest copies of the Marg magazine (edited by Anand) and was best known for his two illustrated volumes on Kama Sutra - 'The Complete Illustrated Volume of Kama Sutra'.

He was an advisor to art promoter O.P. Jain in setting up the beautiful Museum of Everyday Objects at Sanskriti in the capital, the official photographer to revivalist Rajiv Sethi's ADITI Project, helped historian Pupul Jayakar with the Festivals of India, and contributed rare material - estimated to contain around 9,000 books on Indian art and nearly three lakh photographs - to the archives of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Art (IGNCA).

'We had been friends for the last 40-50 years. He was one of the oldest scholars of Indian iconography. I consulted him when I was confused about iconography,' artist Anjolie Ela Menon told IANS.

Recalling her last conversation with Dane, Menon said the 'scholar spoke to her last Saturday and made a strange request'.

'Dane said we did not know what emperor Ashoka looked like. Why don't you paint Ashoka,' Menon said.

He had a fantastic collection of all forms of Indian art, Menon said.

Dane led a unassuming life. 'He moved around in auto-rickshaws and did not believe in possessing wealth. He was usually clad in old kurta-payjama (Indian style pant-shirt). He was one of the oldest living eccentrics,' Menon said.

Dane had an exhaustive archive of Indian manuscripts and erotica. But his most priceless collections is the 'Lance Dane collection of Indian coins', and his compilation of archival photographs which covered every aspect of Indian art.

As he grew older and more infirm, he was obsessed with the goal of preserving his numismatic treasure as an important part of Indian National Heritage.

He had recently held discussions with the Hinduja Foundation which had promised to make this dream come true.

'Till the very end, he was thinking about his new projects,' Menon said. She sai8d that 'efforts should be made to preserve his collections intact'.

Dane lived in the capital for several years before moving to Mumbai.


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