Born in Tavoy, Burma (1926), Bartholomew fled his homeland as a teenager during the Japanese occupation. He made India his home in 1942 like many refugees of the time. He finished his schooling and received a Bachelorâ€™s (1948) and Masterâ€™s degree in English (1950) from St. Stephenâ€™s College, Delhi. He married Rati Batra, a theatre personality and fathered two sons, Pablo and Robin Bartholomew.
His major literary works include articles on Indian and Tibetan art, contemporary Indian art and the Indian experience, as well as poems, monographs, short stories, a co-authored book on M.F. Husain, published in 1971 by Harry Abrams, New York, and a monograph on Krishna Reddy in 1974 by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
From 1960 to 1963 Bartholomew was the Gallery Director of Kunika Art Centre, the first commercial gallery for contemporary art in New Delhi. Subsequently he worked with the Tibet House, New Delhi, from 1966 to 1973 as their curator where he personally catalogued the Dalai Lamaâ€™s collection of religious artifacts, traveling with them to the US and Japan. From 1977 to 1985 Bartholomew served as the Secretary of the Lalit Kala Akademi, India's prestigious national academy of art. Among his other many honors and achievements are a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in 1970; Commissioner of the Silver Jubilee Indian Independence exhibition held in Washington DC, 1973; a British Council Visitor in 1982; and Commissioner of the Art Exhibition of the Festival of India, held in Britain in 1982.