• Monday, November 28, 2022


Indian Mughal art collection helps Swintons pay off £2 million tax bill

The Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street in Oxford, England. (Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

By: Shilpa Sharma

THE UK government accepted a collection of 18th-century art from the estate of Tilda Swinton’s father in lieu of £2,267,370 owed in inheritance tax, The Times reported.

This follows the death of actress’s father, major-general Sir John Swinton, in 2018.

As per government rules, such debt can be written off in exchange for objects of national importance.

The collection of paintings was taken from India in 1766 by captain Archibald Swinton after his tenure as an army surgeon in Bengal.

Swinton is believed to have received the collection as diplomatic gifts from a group that ruled Bengal at the time.

The paintings feature court scenes, a royal procession on horseback and evening entertainment with music and dance, a depiction of Nawabs’ rule over Bengal.

They are understood to have been kept at Kimmerghame House in Duns, Berwickshire, the ancestral home of the Swintons of Kimmerghame. Sir John lived there until his death.

National Museums Scotland has received the “exceptional” collection, the newspaper said.

Friederike Voigt, principal curator for the Middle East and South Asia, said, “The Archibald Swinton collection is of exceptional historical and art historical significance and will make an outstanding addition to the South Asian collections at National Museums Scotland,” he said.

“The Archibald Swinton collection showcases and tells a story of South Asian culture, history and heritage of the 18th century,” said Naina Minhas, manager of the South Asian support group NKS.

Experts believe the Swinton collection would add to the understanding of this period of British imperial expansion.

“I hope that this example will encourage others to use the scheme to find a place for great art in our national collections,” Edward Harley, the chairman of the acceptance in lieu panel, said.

Eastern Eye

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