Richard Bartholomew was born in Tavoy, Burma. However, during the time of the Second World War, in order to escape the Japanese invasion and the imminent persecution on account of their Christian names, Bartholomew fled with his family, walking the General Stilwell Road from Mandalay to Ledo in upper Assam, India, eventually settling in Delhi, which was, by then, the capital.
His schooling at St. Paul's School in Rangon (Yangon) was interrupted because of the Japanese invasion and Bartholomew finished high school in Delhi's Cambridge School and earned his Bachelor's and Master's degree from St. Stephen's College, Delhi, in 1950. It was during his time at Stephen's when he met Rati Batra, his future wife. Rati, half Bengali and half Punjabi, was also a refugee who had escaped with her family from Sargodha, Pakistan, and had come into India during the Partition in 1947.
Bartholomew lived in Delhi in India as a stateless citizen until 1967 when he officially adopted Indian citizenship, thereby closing all possibilities of returning to Burma which was, by the early 60s, being run as a dictatorship.
Bartholomew pursued a career not only as an art critic but also as a writer, poet, painter and curator. He was a pioneering art critic in that he was one of the first who initiated a serious dialogue with the painters of his time, fostering a sense of community within the artists and communicating their ideals to the larger public who were not necessarily receptive or convinced of the daring, artistic exploration of India's Progressive Art Movement. Seen in retrospect, his sophisticated body of work during the formative years of modern Indian art offers contemporary readers a rare, intimate glimpse into the beginnings of Modernism in India.
Bartholomew died in 1985. He was at the time the Secretary of the Lalit Kala Akademi.
Between 2008 and 2011, exhibitions of his photographs titled "A Critic’s Eye" were held in New York, Delhi, Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata), and London. These photographs are intimate portraits of his family and his circle of artist friends and accounts of his travels in India and the US. In 2009 a book of photographs was published under the same name in collaboration with three galleries Photoink, Chaterjee & Lal and Sepia International.
In September 2012, his son, Pablo Bartholomew, published a historic selection of his art writings from the period 50s up to the 80s which is an insider’s account of the untold story of Modern Indian Art. With over 15 years in the making, "The Art Critic" has been edited by Rati & Pablo Bartholomew and Carmen Kagal.
For further information on both these projects please go to the relevant links above.