Harold Peiris

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Harold Peiris
Born(1904-08-10)10 August 1904
NationalitySri Lankan
EducationRoyal College, Colombo,
St. John's College, Cambridge
Royal Academy of London
Occupationartist, scholar and translator

Harold Peiris (1904–1988) was a Sri Lankan lawyer, author, scholar, teacher, patron of the arts, and philanthropist. He was the co-founder of the Lionel Wendt Art Centre and its sole life-trustee.[1][2][3] He is sometimes confused with Harry Pieris, a contemporary, who was a member of the Colombo '43 Group of artists and established the Sapumal Foundation.[4][5][6]

Born to a celebrated wealthy aristocratic family, he was the only son of Charles Peiris, the younger brother of the more famous Sir James Peiris and Maude de Mel, who was a sister of Sir Henry De Mel.[7][8][9] He is a great grandson of Sir Charles Henry de Soysa.[10] Educated at Royal College, Colombo and St. John's College, Cambridge, Harold graduated with a degree in law and became a Barrister at Lincoln's Inn.[3]

Peiris was one of the co-founders of the Lionel Wendt Art Centre that was opened in 1953 in memory of artist Lionel Wendt. The second gallery of the center is named Harold Peiris Gallery in his honor. Fluent in several languages, including Pali, Sanskrit and Latin, he translated to Sinhalese the Gita Govinda in collaboration with George Keyt in 1940 and in collaboration with L.C. Van Geyzel, translated most of the poems and plays of Kālidāsa in 1961.[1][3][11]

Harold Peiris married first in 1928 to Leah, daughter of S.W. Dassenaike, a retired Public Works Department engineer and a member of the Legislative Council of Ceylon and second to Alicia "Peggy" Keyt sister of the artist George Keyt in 1940.[3] Several mansions that were once owned by his family were either gifted or acquired by prominent institutions of Colombo, including Bishop's College, Colombo, St Bridget's Convent, Colombo and the Durdans Hospital.[9][12][13][14] The Nelung Arts Centre was founded by his niece Niloufer Peiris.[15][16][17] Peiris is sometimes confused with Harry Pieris, a member of the Colombo '43 Group, who founded the Sapumal Foundation in 1974 to which he bequeathed his house and art collection.[5][4][6]


  1. ^ a b Lionel Wendt Arts Centre Website: Harold Pieris, Retrieved 10 June 2015
  2. ^ 43 Group & Harry Pieris, Sapumal Foundation Website, Retrieved 10 June 2015
  3. ^ a b c d "Harold Peiris". Sundaytimes.lk. 22 July 1905. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  4. ^ a b A houseful of art, The Sunday Times, Retrieved 9 June 2015
  5. ^ a b The 43 Group, Harry Pieris and the Sapumal Foundation by Rohan de Soysa & Michael Roberts, Retrieved 10 December 2014
  6. ^ a b Sapumal Foundation Website, Retrieved 9 June 2015
  7. ^ Elements of an art lover Archived 12 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Ceylon Today, Retrieved 10 June 2015
  8. ^ Planter Profile: Charles Peiris, History of Ceylon Tea Website, Retrieved 9 June 2015
  9. ^ a b Mansions of Kolluptiya, Colombo in the early twentieth century Retrieved 10 December 2014
  10. ^ Charles Henry De Soysa; The Anepindu Sitano of Lanka, by Buddhika Kurukularatne The Island (Sri Lanka) Retrieved 1 December 2014
  11. ^ The lives of Keyt Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine by Tissa Devendra (Sunday Observer), Retrieved 22 October 2015
  12. ^ School History: Bishop's College, Official Website, Retrieved 9 June 2015
  13. ^ School History: St Bridget's Convent, Official Website, Retrieved 9 June 2015
  14. ^ Colombo 03: When the roads were cart tracks Archived 13 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Ceylon Today, Retrieved 11 June 2015
  15. ^ A place to dance, The Sunday Times, Retrieved 15 February 2017
  16. ^ Rangika And Rangana — Dancing Their Way To Success, The Sunday Leader, Retrieved 15 February 2017
  17. ^ A Bond Between Society and Architecture, The Architect, Retrieved 15 February 2017

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