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New home for `Veiled Rebecca'

J.S. Ifthekhar

The transluscent statue will have an all-new air-conditioned gallery at the Salar Jung Museum



CROWD PULLER: The `Veiled Rebecca' statue at Salar Jung Museum. — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

Hyderabad: The Italian marvel, `Veiled Rebecca', at the Salar Jung Museum, is all set to move into a new home. The transluscent statue will have an all-new air-conditioned gallery at the museum. Giovanni Maria Benzoni's masterpiece, a crowd-puller, is now housed in a congested room on the ground floor with the result that visitors jostle around to get an eyeful.

The new gallery spread over 1,800 sq. feet will provide the pride of place to the statue and will be flanked by 10 seasonal marble statutes, five on either side.

Veiled Rebecca will have a huge mirror all around enabling visitors to appreciate the statue from different angles. The Rs. 20-lakh gallery designed by renowned architect, Nawab Qasim Ali, will be thrown open to the public next month.

"Everything is over only colouring work remains to be done," says SJM director, A. Nagender Reddy.

Statues cleaned

In fact the other Italian statues, which were till now kept in the veranda, have been cleaned and placed in the special niches created in the new gallery. Only Veiled Rebecca remains to be shifted. Visitors to the museum are struck by the craftsmanship of Benzoni who has created the appearance of a transparent veil. A melody in marble, Veiled Rebecca stands out for its anatomical perfection.

Interestingly, the SJM is not the only museum to have this marvel. Benzoni is believed to have sculpted four more Rebeccas, which are with different museums in the world, including Berkshire Museum, UK, and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

The only difference is that in SJM Veiled Rebecca draws her veil with the right hand while elsewhere it is the left hand that pulls the veil.

Two new galleries

The SJM is also in the process of opening two new galleries - the Far Eastern Porcelain and Far Eastern Statutory and Enamel. Costing Rs. 20 lakh each, these galleries are expected to be ready in the next three months. "We are trying to segregate artefacts based on the origin of the country. The new galleries will have all objects belonging to the Eastern countries," Mr. Reddy said.

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