SIMON RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
SIMON RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
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SIMON RAY INDIAN & ISLAMIC WORKS OF ART
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It is with great pleasure that I present this seventeenth catalogue of Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art. I would like to thank the many scholars and experts who have so kindly and generously helped us prepare this catalogue: Jerry Losty, Robert Skelton, Andrew Topsfield, John Seyller, Katrina van Grouw, Franz-Josef Vollmer, Claudia Swan, Rosemary Crill, Susan North, Arthur Millner, Jennifer Scarce, Ashley Crawford, Rukmani Kumari Rathore and Will Kwiatkowski. I would like to thank the following for their expertise in the installation and display of the works of art: Helen Loveday, Louise Macann, Colin Bowles and Tim Blake. Leng Tan has written the entries for this catalogue. I would like to thank Leng for his elegant and lyrical writing which brings each work of art to life. William Edwards has written the sculpture and ceramic entries with meticulous research. I would also like to thank William for looking after the catalogue production at every stage. Finally, I would like to thank Alan Tabor and Richard Valencia for their superb photography; Richard Harris for his exceptional repro and colour preparation; and Peter Keenan for his innovative and vibrant design that presents these works of art with freshness and vitality. Simon Ray
Sculpture 6 Iznik Tiles
1 T H E M I R A C L E O F S R AVA S T I
Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century Height: 42 cm Width: 43 cm Depth: 6 cm
A finely carved fragmentary grey schist frieze in high relief, depicting a centrally placed seated Buddha framed by bodhisattvas and further smaller figures to all sides. The sculpture features the Buddha seated cross-legged in dhyanasana the meditative position upon a tapering lotus pedestal, and wearing a typical robe or sanghati, his right shoulder exposed. His hands are placed in the dharmacakra mudra, and he looks straight out at the viewer, his expression calm and contemplative. Wavy hair is tied up in a usnisha and he is flanked to either side by a single bodhisattva, each with a circular plain nimbus, flowing robes and a decorative chunky amulet necklace. Both hold a thick garland of flowers as they look slightly down and towards the Buddha seated between them. The left figure, standing on a small plain pedestal and wearing a turban could be Maitreya, as his fragmented arm could once have been held up in abhaya mudra. The other bodhisattva has hair in horizontal rows of curls to his forehead and a chignon above. A further smaller seated bodhisattva with his right hand raised in abhaya mudra is positioned at the far left of the piece. Below the Buddha, part of a small muscular male figure can be seen supporting the lotus pedestal above. This could be an atlantes figure, loosely based on the Greek god Atlas. Framing the panel to the bottom is a wavy incised border perhaps suggesting a flowing stream or river. Positioned above the right shoulder of the Buddha are a group of small figures, including further seated representations of the Buddha, and a bodhisattva. To the far right is a kneeling figure, possibly a further bodhisattva, placed on a small lotus pedestal and bowing to the left. Further unattributed figures,
a prostrate or flying garland bearer and a large floral canopy fill the remaining ground. It is difficult to give a specific attribution to this frieze, and comparable published examples have been interpreted in differing ways. A similar sized schist frieze of a seated Buddha flanked to either side can be seen in Katsumi Tanabe, Gandharan Art from The Hirayama Collection, 2007, p.107, II-14 and is referred to as a “Buddhist Triad”. Alfred Foucher in his book on Gandharan sculpture suggests that a frieze with a central seated Buddha displaying the dharmacakra mudra and wearing a sanghati with his right shoulder exposed, could be The Miracle at Sravasti, when the Buddha displayed his power by performing miracles before a gathering of heretical masters including creating replicas of himself. In our frieze, there are two smaller Buddhas to the right which may point to this attribution. In Islay Lyons and Harald Ingholt, Gandharan Art in Pakistan, 1957, similar sculptures such as nos. 252-257 are labelled as The Preaching Buddha on Lotus Throne, but the authors state on p.122 that they are all based on the Sravasti theme that Foucher suggests. This interpretation is also acknowledged by W. Zwalf in A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, Volume 1, p. 126. For further examples of Miracle of Sravasti friezes, see Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art I: The Buddha’s Life Story, pp. 190 - 203. Provenance: The Estate of Ambassador Walter P. McConaughy, Washington DC, USA. Walter P. McConaughy was a specialist in the Far East for the State Department and had high-profile postings including ambassadorships in Burma, Pakistan and Taiwan. He was back in Washington as assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern Affairs in 1961, after which President John F. Kennedy named him US ambassador to Pakistan where he remained until 1966. This sculpture was purchased in 1964 whilst he was US ambassador there.
2 HEAD OF BUDDHA Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century
placed on his forehead. Framing his head to either side are pierced elongated ears, stretched by the heavy jewellery worn in his earlier life as Prince Siddhartha.
Height: 17.8 cm Width: 18.6 cm Depth: 10.5 cm
A circular halo or nimbus frames the head. The upper section of the nimbus shows unusual arrow-like motifs. The halo or nimbus on a Buddha or bodhisattva tends to be plain. Occasionally the edge maybe decorated with smaller figures, tooth or line borders but it is unusual to find a nimbus with other decorative motifs. For another Gandharan bust of the Buddha with similar decoration to the nimbus, see Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, p. 102, pl. 270; and Christie’s, Amsterdam, 13th April 1999, lot 14, although here the arrows are referred to as “radiant shaped beams”.
A finely carved dark grey schist head of the Buddha, framed behind by a round nimbus with decorative arrows pointing towards the top edge. Originally part of a much larger sculpture, this Buddha has an oval face, and sports deeply cut and unusually wide open eyes below sharply arched brows, with thickly carved lids. The large and open eyes break with iconographic tradition which favoured them half-closed and looking down as if in meditation. He has a long and narrow nose below which is a prominent mouth with plump bow-shaped lips, creating an enigmatic smile. His rich and luxurious wavy hair is tied back in a usnisha or chignon and below, an auspicious tuft of hair (urna) is
Provenance: Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1933.
3 E M A C I AT E D B U D D H A Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century Height: 21 cm Width: 13.8 cm Depth: 4.6 cm
A small carved grey schist sculpture of the emaciated Buddha, seated in dhyanasana on a grass-covered plain pedestal. The Buddha stares directly out at the viewer, his deep-set eyes creating a haunting and almost hypnotic quality. Above, his matted, wavy hair is tied to the top in a usnisha. His gaunt, skeletal face has a pursed narrow mouth and wispy beard. Below, his torso shows the web of tendons around the neck and also his ribcage. His flesh has almost entirely disappeared, leaving only skin and sinews tightly stretched around the skeleton, indicating the extreme situation between life and death. This realism can be traced back to the earlier Hellenistic style which obviously greatly influenced Gandharan sculpture. His bony shoulders to either side barely support his sanghati or triple robe, traces of which can be seen draped in pleats over his crossed legs covering all but the toes of his feet. The detailed depiction of how an emaciated torso would look suggests a knowledge of anatomy from the sculptor, which contributes to the power of the image. The spine, visable through the sunken abdomen is a feature which is also described in Buddhist texts.1
Representations of the Fasting Buddha such as seen here are rare in Gandharan art.2 The small size also suggests that it would have been part of a portable shrine for worship at home or from a larger panel of jatakas or stories from the Buddha’s life. For similar emaciated Buddhas formerly from the Samuel Eilenberg Collection, see Martin Lerner and Steven Kossak, The Lotus Transcendent, 1991, pp. 84-85. A much larger emaciated Buddha in the same pose can be seen in Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art 1: The Buddha’s Life Story, 2003, p. 75, P2-IV. Depicting both Siddhartha’s absolute accomplishment in ascetic practices as well as their horrific futility, images of the emaciated Buddha refer to the end of the six years Siddhartha spent in the Uruvela forest learning from, surpassing, and then renouncing the leading ascetic practices of his time for their inability to deliver spiritual enlightenment. Here the Buddha sits in meditation at the brink of death through excessive fasting. Upon his recovery, he pronounced the famed doctrine of the “Middle Way” to enlightenment between the extremes of austerities and sensual indulgence.
Provenance: Japanese Collection 2005 Thai Collection 2016 References: 1. Susan L. Huntington, The Art Of Ancient India, 1985, p. 142. 2. Martin Lerner and Steven Kossak, The Lotus Transcendent, 1991, p. 84.
4 H E A D O F M A I T R E YA Gandhara, 2nd/3rd century Height: 14.7 cm Width: 12.7 cm Depth: 6.7 cm
A carved grey schist face plaque of a male figure, probably the bodhisattva Maitreya, sliced vertically just in front of the ears.
is lopped at the top, it is probable that this is a portrait of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. For a similar face of Maitreya, see W. Zwalf, A Catalogue of the Gandhara Sculpture in the British Museum, Volume II, 1996, p. 48, no. 73; and Isao Kurita, Gandharan Art II: The World of the Buddha, 2003, p. 101, fig. 266.
He has a rounded face, and is depicted with deep-set and penetrating almond-shaped eyes with heavy lids above. His expression is calm and meditative, radiating serenity and wisdom. His damaged nose is wide and fleshy, and below is a sinuous, curling moustache and gently smiling mouth with a full lower lip. Tight cylindrical rows of curls frame his forehead and rise to a chignon bow above. Due to the moustache and the way that his hair
Agha Hilaly, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 1966 to 1971, acquired 10th May 1969. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund, 1969. Literature: “Art of Asia Recently Acquired by American Museums, 1969”, in Archives of Asian Art, vol. XXIV, Honolulu, 1970-1971, p. 107. “The Year in Review for 1968”, in The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 57, January 1970, p. 51, no. 221.
5 TO R S O O F A C E L E S T I A L B E AU T Y India (Chalnkya, Rajasthan or Gujarat), 11th/12th century Height: 59 cm Width: 21 cm Depth: 14 cm
A graceful and voluptuous surasundrai or celestial beauty, possibly an apsaras or yakshi who would have guarded gods and goddesses on an external temple wall, finely carved in white marble.
to create more three-dimensionality by carving behind the apsaras’ torso, adding depth and realism. For a similar marble female sculpture, see B. N. Goswamy, Essence of Indian Art, 1986, p. 36 and Pratapaditya Pal, Indian Sculpture, Vol. 2, 1988, pp. 142-143.
Provenance: The Stella Kramrisch Collection Ernst Diez, 27th October 1930 The Cleveland Museum of Art, Charles W. Harkness Endowment Fund, 1930.
She stands in slight tribhanga (S-curve or triple bend) with one arm raised above her head; the other fragmented arm may well have held a chowrie or flywhisk. As a symbol of fertility and abundance, she has a greatly elongated midsection and a delicate and buoyant form. Elaborate and elegant jewellery decorate her body, including a pair of large karnphul (earrings), a bracelet and jewelled necklaces. She wears a dhoti around her waist which drapes down over her slender legs below. Part of what appears to be a long sash can be seen to her right, echoing her form. Standing by her right leg is a small female garland bearer. The two figures are framed by a wall behind, and rather than being carved flat to the wall, the sculptor has attempted
Exhibited: “East Indian Sculpture from Various American Collections”, Toledo Museum of Art, 7th-28th January 1940. The Cleveland Museum of Art, before 2nd December 1997 to15th January 1998 and 30th January 1998 to 24th May 2005. Literature: H. Hollis, “Indian Sculpture”, in The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art, vol. 17, no. 10, December 1930, pp. 190-193, illustration on p. 198. Handbook of the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1958, no. 759. East Indian Sculpture from Various American Collections: A Selection of Sculptural Works by Unknown but Outstanding East Indian Sculptors, Toledo Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue, 1940, cat. no. 18.
6 S E AT E D B U D D H A Thailand (Chiang Saen period), 15th century Height: 53.5 cm Width: 31.5 cm Depth: 20 cm
A cast bronze figure of a seated Buddha on a pedestal base, cross-legged and with a calm and serene expression.
his left shoulder and breast, he looks forwards, his neck elongated and back straight. His face carries a calm and serene expression, the hair worked in tight curls rising to a usnisha surmounted by a flame finial. His elongated ears curve down gently to either side of his oval face.
Provenance: The Dani and Anna Ghigo collection acquired in Bangkok, 26th October 1973. Dani Ghigo
He is seated on a lotus base placed on a plain hexagonal pedestal in bhumisparshamudra, the “earth witness” Buddhist pose which symbolises his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. His right hand points towards the ground, whilst his left rests on his lap in dhyanamudra, the gesture of meditation. Dressed in a sanghati or monastic robe covering
helped bring Himalayan and Southeast Asian art to his countrymen’s attention over the course of a 50-year career. He, along with his wife collected works of exceptional quality, including Khmer sculptures of the Angkor period, bronze and sandstone works from Thailand, Indonesian figures of both Hindu and Buddhist traditions and Tibetan and Nepalese bronze of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and Lamas.
7 S H I VA G A J A S U R A S A M H A R A Southern India, 19th century Height: 35.2 cm Width: 26 cm Depth: 8.4 cm
A finely carved dark brown sandalwood sculpture of the deity Shiva Gajasurasamhara (the slayer of the elephant demon) on an elaborate pedestal. Shiva is shown with his legs bent at each knee, balancing on the decapitated head of the elephant demon Gajasura or Nila. It is almost as if he is dancing in triumph, as he stares directly ahead, his eyes wide open and with an impassive expression. In some of Shivaâ€™s eight hands he holds attributes such as a sword, a snake, a damaru (two-headed drum), a trishula or three pronged spear and a mace with a shrunken human head to its top; whilst he also displays the
abhayamudra, or gesture of fearlessness in one hand. Shiva is decorated with jewelled necklaces, bazubands, bracelets, a large sacred thread or janayu, an elaborate dhoti, as well as jewellery to his feet and a mukuta or crown to his head. He also has a kirttimukha or face of glory to the front of his dhoti. The elephant demon is shown with his head pinned to the ground by Shiva, trunk furled and with short ears and tusks. He is decorated with a jewelled headdress. Shiva stands within a carved rounded niche, itself decorated with large stylised acanthus sprays. Framing his head is a design of fish and foliage to the niche, and to the edge are scalloped, wave-like and tooth borders. To the bottom are further stepped decorative borders above a pedestal base,
again with decorative borders surrounding a central plaque depicting Nandi bull, Shivaâ€™s vehicle, surrounded by floral sprays. Above the seated bull is a further kirttimukha. The scene before us shows Shiva the destroyer dancing upon the head of the elephant demon Gajasura, who has performed a penance and obtained powers of conquering the universe, torturing others to praise him as the Lord. All the other Gods plead with Shiva who is the only deity able to rid the world of Gajasuraâ€™s wickedness. Shiva as requested then kills the elephant demon. The multiple arms seen on Shiva in this sculpture are uncommon in his iconography and are exclusively used in his combative forms. The chief temple of Gajasurasamhara is at Valuvur in Tamil Nadu, where the prominent deity is an eight-armed bronze Gajasurasamhara.
8 C O M P O S I T E S A Z L E A F A N D F L O R A L S P R AY S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1575 Height: 47.5 cm Width: 24 cm
A pair of underglaze-painted square tiles in polychrome colours of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, turquoise and black against a white ground and depicting a group of stylised floral sprays and cartouches surrounding a large composite saz leaf. The tiles are placed together vertically, with the design featuring an array of stylised flowers including a single tulip, hyacinths and a carnation competing for our attention with larger composite flowers, cusped cartouches and serrated leafy sprays. The focal point remains however the large
serrated composite saz leaf which appears from the bottom right and gently arcs upwards onto the tile above where its tip disappears off the edge to the right side. The vibrant turquoise edges are made up of smaller serrated saz leaves, each decorated with small double rosette sprays. To the centre of the composite leaf is an elongated cusped cartouche filled with sealing wax red hyacinth sprays growing from cobalt stems against a white slip ground.
lotus spray in a rich cobalt blue with small turquoise leaves around a large sealing wax red bud. Part of a smaller composite rosette can also be seen, again in blue with raised red petals.
Provenance: Collection Pierre Pitavy (1932-2012) Me Alain Sineau, Faiences Islamiques XIIIe-XVII siècle, lot 15, 28th March 1981. The Pitavy family, producers of wine in France, partly lived in Djenan Caïd el Bab at Birkadem from 1939 until the independence
Framing the large saz leaf to either side are parts of two cusped cartouches, one with a bold raised red ground and the other with a dappled cobalt ground, and both containing stylised rosettes and small serrated leaves. Individual tulip and carnation sprays emerge to fill the white ground, and from the bottom, groups of smaller serrated saz leaves twist and turn as if swept by an unseen breeze. To the top of the tile is a large composite
of Algeria. The property was formerly in Mr Pitavy’s wife’s family. She was born Arnould. The Arnould family bought the house in 1863. The father and grandfather of Madame Pitavy built the collection of Ottoman tiles. On the reverse of the lower tile in the present panel is an old label written Mad. Arnould. Fifty Islamic tiles from the Pitavy Collection were sold at an auction in Auxerre in France in the early 1980s. This pair of tiles was purchased by the father of the present owner from this auction of the Pitavy Collection in Auxerre.
9 S A Z L E A F, R O S E S A N D T U L I P S Turkey (Iznik), circa 1595 Diameter: 36.4 cm
An unusually large polychrome underglaze-painted dish in shades of cobalt blue, sealing wax red, emerald green and black against a white ground, with a stylised design of tulips, roses and other floral sprays surrounding a large central saz leaf, the pattern commonly referred to as a “storm in a teacup”. The focal point of the dish is a large centrally placed curving bifurcated saz leaf, richly painted in cobalt blue and emerald green and highlighted with splashes of raised sealing wax red. The leaf rises from a leafy mound to the bottom of the cavetto and has a bold black spine which emphasises its shape and gives added strength. The large group of roses, tulips, hyacinths and stylised smaller sprays also emanate from this single leafy point,
covering the crisp white ground, jostling for position. Their arcing emerald green stems end in a variety of floral sprays. The cobalt tulips are detailed with raised red spots, the hyacinths painted in green and blue with red buds and the large sealing wax red roses, flattened in threequarter profile have cobalt calyxes. The rose to the far left dangles from a long broken stem, a motif that was seen in Iznik pottery designs from the 1540s onwards.1 The slight inclination of the stem from the vertical and the contrast of the broken stem with its sharp angled break preserve the spontaneity and liveliness of repetitive floral designs.2 The floral sprays are all held aloft by delicate green stems, which bend
this way and that, as if competing for attention, or blown by an unseen breeze. Unusually, there are still large traces of slightly haphazardly applied gilt splashed across the main field as further decoration. The rim of the dish has a breaking wave and ammonite scroll pattern, with splashes of raised sealing wax red, contained within blue-lined borders. To the reverse of the dish are a series of alternating stylised rosettes and floral sprays painted in cobalt blue and emerald green. To the edge is a continuous black foliate line. A dish of the same size with a similar saz leaf design and splashes of gold can be seen in Frédéric Hitzel and Mireille Jacotin, Iznik: L’aventure d’une collection, 2005, p. 90, no. 50.
The Yuan dynasty in China used a “breaking wave” motif to the rim of their plates, seen here in a more stylised and expressive form.3 To the Ottoman potter any mythological associations this motif may have had for the Chinese were unknown, but once attracted by its graphic power it continued to be used well into the seventeenth century.4 By the 1570s the wave border, increasingly removed from its Chinese model, had become a standard feature of Iznik dishes. In its final metamorphosis it became so stylised as to be unrecognisable, to the point of being described as “ammonite scrolls”.5 The very first Iznik examples however, imitate the Yuan waves closely, their rollers painted with feathery parallel lines. These gradual changes in this border motif allow us to accurately date the motifs on Iznik plates. The depiction of floral sprays emerging from one source echoes Ming dynasty porcelain.
Provenance: Private Scottish Collection from a Tayside family, and owned for at least two generations. References: 1. Maria Queiroz Ribeiro, Louças Iznik: Iznik Pottery, 1996, p. 169. 2. Ibid. 3. John Carswell, Iznik Pottery, 1998, p. 82. 4. Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby, Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, 1989, p. 121. 5. Ibid.
10 L AY L A A N D M A J N U N Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 72.5 cm Width: 95.5 cm Depth: 4.5 cm
A rectangular panel of twelve tiles in the cuerda seca technique in colours of yellow, cobalt blue, sage green, ochre, turquoise and black against a white ground. The design depicts the story of the meeting of Layla and Majnun by the poet Nizami, seen here in a stylised floral landscape, surrounded by animals and birds. The protagonists as the focal point of the panel are placed centrally. The standing figure of Layla to the left, is dressed in fine robes: a long cobalt tunic with floral patterns with a turquoise over garment, decorated with yellow borders. A long green and yellow striped headdress is worn above, and on her feet are a pair of turquoise sandals. She offers her left hand to the crouching Majnun, whilst her other hand holds a yellow tether for the camel seated next to her. The camel, painted with bright yellow hooves and a rich dark ochre body, looks towards the couple with a contented expression, its head held high and wearing a yellow and blue halter, attached to the long tether before it. The camel also sports a multi-coloured woven saddle, with a thick black strap securing it under its belly. Above the camel floats a stylised rock and leaves motif.
Majnun sits huddled under a vibrant cobalt tree with pairs of green, yellow and turquoise leaves. Wearing just a bright yellow skirt, his upper torso is naked and emaciated and his arms are thin and weak, and wrapped protectively around his pulled-up knees. His bare feet gently touch the edge of a small blue stream which pools in front of him. He looks despondently down to the ground, his long black hair falling onto his shoulders. He is framed by a rocky outcrop behind him. Resting to his side is a dark brown clawed animal, and below, further stylised animals sit and frolic on the white ground. To the corner, a snake with a turquoise head surveys the scene, its tongue exposed. Two large cat-like creatures seem focused on the three ibexes in brown, turquoise and green innocently playing in front of them; perhaps ready to attack. Heavily stylised, the predators are painted in unusual colour schemes; one in brown and yellow and the other green with cobalt spots. A large rock formation can be seen to the bottom left corner of the panel, painted in every colour of the palette. A single bird with multi-coloured wings perches precariously on one of the rocks, searching for insects hidden in the cracks. A large turquoise tree with bifurcated yellow and cobalt leaves also emerges from the rocks, slightly obscuring the camel behind.
The white ground is filled with further stylised chinoiserie cloud bands, rocks and floral sprays, as well as birds in the sky. A simurgh or phoenix aggressively swoops to the far right, whilst other stylised birds compete for our attention. Although the couple are the focal point of the panel, the mixture of vibrantly painted clouds, foliage and animals gives the viewer a plethora of visual stimulants. Some colours on various parts of the panel appear mottled, as can be seen to the turquoise trunks and branches of the trees, the tunic worn by Layla as well as the ochre hide of the camel. This is the result of an unusual technique that causes the glaze to pull apart when fired to create a sense of texture, in this instance simulating the bark of the trees and the mottling of the camel’s hide. The deliberate fracturing of the glaze may perhaps be due to a reaction between the oxides and the glaze. As well as adding texture to these areas, Layla’s clothing has now become patterned through the reaction, an interesting aesthetic change that suggests her long outer tunic may be made of crushed velvet. This tile panel depicts the important episode from the Khamsa of Nizami of the
meeting of the lovers Layla and Majnun. The Khamsa (Quintet) by the twelfth century poet Nizami, is one of the greatest works of Persian literature, and the story of Layla and Majnun is one of these five tales. These famous lovers may be compared to Romeo and Juliet with whom there are numerous parallels: powerful passions, familial disapproval and the hardships of forced separation. In the episode depicted, they have been united at last through the intervention of a mysterious old man, thought to be Khwaja Khizr. Layla and Majnun are overcome with emotion when they finally meet in a luxuriant grove on the edge of the desert near Layla’s camp. The scene is a climactic moment, almost amounting to a betrothal. The lovers are watched over by the animals of the desert that have come to protect Majnun. For tiles and panels using identical colours and techniques from the same period and artist, see the panel of two tiles in the Simon Ray Indian &
Islamic Works of Art catalogue, 2004, pp. 34-35, cat. no. 13 depicting a “Courtier Seated Under a Tree”. These tiles are now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For a pair of tiles depicting a “Resting Sword and Quiver” and a single tile with an “Ibex and Fruit Tree”, see the Simon Ray Indian & Islamic Works of Art catalogue, 2005, pp. 52-55, cat. nos. 23 and 24. Isfahan, the Safavid capital, and Na’in were the two main centres in which buildings were lavishly decorated with tilework panels such as ours. The old tile-making tradition of composing repetitive geometrical or vegetal patterns was kept alive on mosques and madrasas, but an important innovation on secular buildings was a composition of square tiles individually painted as single elements of an outdoor scene with characters set in a garden landscape. These were placed in royal garden pavilions from the time of Shah CAbbas to that of Shah Sulayman (the last example being the Hasht Bihisht of 1669).1 For a Safavid style Qajar panel of Layla and Majnun, see The Doris Duke Collection, Object Number: 48.15.
Provenance: Private French Collection Reference: 1. http://www.metmuseum.org/art/ collections/search/444949?sortBy= Relevance&ft=safavid+tiles& amp;offset=0&rpp=20&pos=4
11 RUNNING FOXES Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 22.3 cm Width: 23.5 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique in shades of cobalt blue, green, yellow, turquoise, ochre, black and white with three registers depicting a crenel border to the top, scrolling floral designs to the centre and below, playful foxes running through a landscape amongst chinoiserie clouds and foliage. The focal point of the tile is the pair of foxes, one in cobalt blue with a yellow belly and one in yellow with
a turquoise belly. They are captured in mid-movement and full of energy with the front fox turning to check on his companion as they playfully race towards the left edge of the tile. Framed against a white ground, they are surrounded by chinoiserie cloud bands and floral sprays as well as a large ochre hedge to the right. Two plain bands in white and blue separate this lower register from a central cobalt field of scrolling stylised floral rosettes and leaves on turquoise stems. Further plain bands in white and green frame the floral meander to the top, above which is a final register of repeated yellow crenel shaped cartouches.
12 GRAZING DEER Iran (Safavid), 17th century Height: 21.2 cm Width: 22.3 cm
A tile in the cuerda seca technique with a bold design of animals grazing within a leafy landscape, painted in colours of green, turquoise, cobalt blue, pink, ochre and manganese against a yellow ground. A large multi-coloured floral spray with bifurcated serrated leaves in green and turquoise, and cobalt and pink rosettes with green buds, fill most of the vibrant and rich yellow
ground. The thick dark manganese stems bend under the weight of the flowers. Below this, a deer painted in dark ochre has its head to the ground, drinking from a small pool to the edge of the tile. Part of a further deer, this time painted in a turquoise hue, can be seen to the far left, its head turned as if disturbed suddenly. This animal is perhaps keeping a lookout, leaving his companion safe to drink. Two further smaller floral sprays fill the remaining ground. Unlike most Safavid tiles, there is an element of movement visible, due to the turquoise deer that seems to have been alerted by something. What we see is almost a captured moment.
13 LOV E R S I N A G A R D E N Iran (Qajar, probably Isfahan), circa 1880 Height: 33 cm Width: 37 cm Depth: 3.5 cm
A rectangular stone-paste tile with moulded decoration, finely underglaze-painted in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, aubergine, pink, black and white under a gleaming translucent glaze. The focal point of the tile is a group of four splendidly dressed figures, in two confronting pairs. To the left, a lady holds a pink and turquoise parasol above her head as she faces her lover to the right. She wears a flowing monochrome dress with boteh designs similar to those found on Indian Kashmir shawls. Her outstretched left hand receives a large floral spray from her admirer. Acting possibly as a chaperone, a female courtier stands watchfully beside her, also in a monochrome dress and with a turquoise shawl draped over her head and body, her hands clasped together. Both ladies wear typical Qajar court costume. Facing his lover, the elegantly attired man wears a similar Kashmir and rosette tunic, and reaches proudly out with his floral gift to his beloved. His left arm is bent at the elbow, hand clasped to his chest. He also sports a curved sword or talwar, which hangs from his belt. To his right, a male courtier in a turquoise and white tunic looks on, ready to assist his master.
in colours of turquoise, manganese, pink and cobalt blue. Further elaborate floral sprays decorate the ground around them; and above, a group of impressive Armenian churches, possibly referencing those in Isfahan, are scattered across the horizon. A meandering border of leafy cobalt vines punctuated by multi-coloured rosettes and two pairs of confronted birds on a white slip ground frames the tile to the top of the main field. A tile in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, depicts a similar scene. The website description, prepared by Jennifer Scarce, tells us that the ladies also wear typical Qajar costume, described as long-sleeved jackets with waist peplums worn over long bell-shaped skirts and straightlegged trousers. The male courtier wears a coiled seventeenth century late Safavid style turban and a Qajar style jacket. His retainer wears a plain seventeenth century style knee-length coat and Safavid turban. The men in our tile also wear late Safavid turbans in combination with their Qajar outfits. Therefore in Qajar tiles we find a fantastical melange of periods in the depiction of court dress. In the background of the Victoria and Albert Museum are three Armenian churches and a bridge.1 Similar tiles can also be found in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, and the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jennifer Scarce for her expert advice.
All four figures are set against a rich cobalt blue ground, almost hovering, as they stand above a strip of dense foliage and vibrant floral rosettes,
Reference: 1. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/ O113643/tile-unknown
14 KING JAMSHID Iran (Qajar, Tehran), 1866
Inspired by excavations at Persepolis ordered by the governor of Fars in the 1870s, a vogue for imitation Achaemenid sculptures became popular among the urban elite of Shiraz. Judith Lerner has pointed out that the scene on the British Museum’s tile is virtually identical to that on an alabaster panel, modelled on a Persepolis bas relief, set above the fireplace in a house known as the Narangistan (Sour Orange Garden), completed in 1885. It is thought that the craftsmen and artists in Shiraz would have copied from popular guides to the antiquities produced during this period. It may be that such tiles were also produced in Shiraz, although it has traditionally been thought that Tehran and Isfahan were the main centres.”
Height: 31 cm Width: 31 cm
A stone-paste tile with moulded decoration, finely underglaze-painted in shades of cobalt blue, turquoise, aubergine, pink, black and white under a gleaming translucent glaze. The design features King Jamshid facing left accompanied by two attendants against a rich cobalt blue ground. This large square tile, unusually dated and signed, has King Jamshid standing upright, holding a long white spear vertically in front of him. With a thick long beard and curling locks, he wears a decorative tunic with brown stripes and crosses on a white ground. An aubergine and turquoise sash falls from his shoulder. His lower arms and legs are bare but he wears a pair of light brown moccasins. He looks straight ahead to the large architectural fluted column and the white cartouche above. The enclosed inscription reads: Jamshid Jam (King Jamshid) Workshop of Haji Mirza Mohammad Naghash Year AH 128(3?)/1866 AD The king is sheltered from the sun by a large brown and turquoise parasol carried by a well-dressed attendant in a white floral tunic with a turquoise sash. A second attendant holds a chowrie or flywhisk. The figures stand on a floral ground surrounded by tall twisting floral sprays. Two mosques, possibly representing actual buildings in Tehran or Shiraz can be seen in the top corners of the tile. There is a closely related tile in the British Museum depicting King
Jamshid wearing the same robe but seated on a throne holding a sceptre (accession no.1981.0604.2). A fan bearer stands behind and three guardsmen with spears are in attendance. The inscription between the throne legs says “King Jamshid”. The British Museum tile is not dated nor does it have a maker’s name; the display label says circa 1850, a date that has been revised to slightly later on their website. The date on our tile is not clearly written but we can
make out the first three digits 128. Fortunately, an almost identical tile in a private London collection that once formed a pair with ours has a clearly legible date of AH 1283/1866 AD. The British Museum tile is published by Venetia Porter in Islamic Tiles, 1995, p. 84, no. 77. On p. 81 she writes: “An interesting tile in the British Museum shows a new preoccupation, the depiction of scenes from Iran’s pre-Islamic past.
Though King Jamshid is portrayed in our tile, its pair and that of the British Museum as an Achaemenid ruler, and his imagery is based on Achaemenid style reliefs from Persepolis, the seat of Achaemenid kings, he is in fact a mythical king from the very first of the Persian dynasties, the legendary Pishdadian dynasty. A myth grew up in late antiquity that Persepolis was built by Jamshid and the name of the city is Takht-e-Jamshid or “Throne of Jamshid”. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid empire that ruled from circa 550-330 BC but the Pishdadians reigned during the mists of mythical time. Their first king Gayumarth dwelt on a mountain surrounded by courtiers in leopard skins and during the reign of his son Hushang, fire was discovered and cooking invented. Jamshid was the fourth Pishdadian king who ushered in a golden age. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jennifer Scarce for her expert advice.
15 P I L G R I M F L A S K ( M ATA R A ) Syria (Damascus), 17th century Height: 14.5 cm Width: 13.2 cm Depth: 12.2 cm
A rare underglaze-painted polychrome pilgrim flask or matara on a short foot, with an asymmetrical design of saz leaves, cypress trees and stylised floral sprays, all painted in hues of cobalt blue, olive green, black and manganese against a white ground. This flask has two identical short spouts to either side which emerge from a bulbous rounded body, the centre pinched to the top to form two pierced crescent handles. The pattern of floral designs emerge from a thin black-lined border to the bottom of the flask, with two confronting bifurcated saz leaves in sage green and cobalt blue framing floral sprays of stylised tulips and carnations with cusped green leaves. Above, a cusped and
downward facing crenel sits between the two saz leaf tips, its stem splitting and curving upwards around the pierced handles. The two rounded sides of the flask are each decorated with a single tall green cypress tree framed by small tulips sprays to each side. A collar of repeated demi-lune motifs decorates each spout to the top of the flask. According to Arthur Millner, the loose drawing of our flask does not necessarily suggest a later seventeenth century date of manufacture.1 This theory is further evidenced by the vase sold at Sotheby’s in 2009
with similar drawing, which was catalogued as second half of the sixteenth century.2 Almost certainly based on earlier leather, metal or glass Ottoman pieces, we have never seen another Damascus ceramic flask. For two Iznik pilgrim flasks of a slightly earlier date, see Hülya Bilgi, Iznik: The Ömer Koç Collection, 2015, pp. 432-433; and Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World, April 2016, lot 85. A tile with a similarly loose design and almost identical stylised carnations can be seen in Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles, 2015, p. 305, fig. 6.138; and two tiles with similar hues on p. 293, figs. 6.113 and 6.114. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Arthur Millner for his expert advice. References: 1. Personal communication with Arthur Millner. 2. Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World, October 2009, lot 238.
16 E N A M E L L E D S I LV E R - G I LT E U R O P E A N G E N T L E M A N India (Lucknow), 1780-1790 Height: 10.9 cm Width: 5.4 cm Depth: 5.4 cm
An enamelled silver and silver-gilt standing figure of a European gentleman on a square dais with repoussĂŠ decoration of acanthus leaves in shallow relief to the sloping sides. The gentleman wears late eighteenth century European costume dating to the 1780s or 1790s with a cut-away coat and waist-length waistcoat. Most European gentlemen of the time tended to follow the latest French fashions, making it difficult to determine the exact nationality of our gentleman. What is clear is he was in India at the time and a bit of a dandy as his magnificent silver coat
is boldly decorated in blue enamel with a diaper pattern of exotic Mughal flowers and sprigs. His silver breeches are decorated with trefoil sprigs and tucked into knee-length boots of an intense and vibrant cobalt blue. His emerald green waistcoat is fastened by three blue buttons of exaggerated size and prominence. According to Susan North, Curator of Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum, who kindly analysed the clothes worn by our European gentleman, it is very hard to know how closely the artist was observing European dress. What may appear to be a later fashion may be the artist interpreting it through garments he is familiar with, or exaggerating what already appear quite outlandish to him like the hugely enlarged buttons.
flower-head against a green enamel ground on the top. As this floral decoration would not have appeared on the top of any European hat in reality, the metalworker has enhanced his object with an element of fantasy, to match the opulent Mughal style fabric from which the coat is cut. The hat is set at a jaunty angle to complete the rakish effect of a fashion conscious aesthete. The palette of blue and green enamels against a silver ground is characteristic of metalwork from Lucknow and seen in vases, rosewater sprinklers and other vessels, but we have never encountered a standing figure such as the present rare and unusual work of art. Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Rosemary Crill and Susan North for their expert advice.
As for the hat, North observes that one would have expected to see a tricorne, but this appears to be an interpretation of a â€œwide-awakeâ€?, a low, round-crowned, wide-brimmed style that was worn informally in Europe and which would have provided much better protection from the Indian sun than a tricorne. The hat is enamelled in the intense blue of the boots with a silver
17 TOY S O L D I E R W I T H R I F L E O N A C A M E L South-Eastern India (Vizagapatam), circa 1795 Height: 17.7 cm Width: 9.5 cm Depth: 4.4 cm
A cast brass soldier depicting a matchlock-man on a capering camel on a rectangular platform. The matchlock rifle that he carries is hugely exaggerated in size and has a spear on the end. On his back the matchlock-man carries a shield and fastened to his saddlecloth are a sword, a bow and a quiver full of arrows. His feet are tucked into stirrups and the rein loops into the
nostril of the camel through a nose-ring. Hanging from his belt is a powder horn and a leather bag. The tail of the animated camel flies in the wind as does the point of the soldier’s turban. Examples from this group can be seen in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the National Army Museum, London; the Madras Museum and Her Majesty the Queen at Sandringham House. Unlike Western examples, these toy soldiers are not manufactured by piece-moulding, but are individually cast by the cire perdue (lost wax) process, thus
having a greater variety of detail and expression. With their large hands, squat bodies, enormous weapons and upright bearing, they “graphically illustrate the whole gamut of military swagger in man and beast”. A similar matchlock-man on a camel in the Ashmolean Museum is illustrated in J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, 1986, p. 65.
Literature: Simon Digby and J. C. Harle, Toy Soldiers and Ceremonial in Post-Mughal India, 1982. James C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum, 1986, pp. 66-67.
18 BIDRI SPIT TOON India (Deccan, Bidar), circa 1850 Height: 13.2 cm Diameter of lip: 10.2 cm Diameter of chamber: 6.2 cm
A bidri spittoon (pikhdan, tukhdan or ugaldan), inlaid with silver against a lustrous black ground, with a bulbous body of compressed globular form and carinated upper edge standing on a splayed foot with a narrow waist, rising to a broad neck and trumpet mouth with a wide everted rim completed by a raised edge. The decoration consists of ogival cartouches made up of leafy fronds linked at the interstices by bands recalling the bundling of wheatsheaf motifs, within which perch song birds facing left with their beaks arched
upwards to the sky. The birds sit within abundant clusters of leafs and fruits tied by bands that form a perch for their legs. Bands of sprouting buds and trefoil flowers linked by swags frame the central friezes of birds enclosed by garlands. The bird motifs within leafy ogivals continue on the upper surface of the broad everted rim of the spittoon.
with silver, brass and sometimes gold.2 A mud paste containing sal ammoniac is applied which turns the alloy permanently a rich matt black in contrast to the glittering silver and other metals which are unaffected by the paste.3
Provenance: James Broun-Ramsay (1812-1860), 1st
The technique of bidriware is thought to have originated in the city of Bidar in the Deccan, which gave its name to this type of inlaid metalwork.1 Bidri is cast from an alloy of which the predominant component is zinc together with small amounts of copper and tin, to which is added varying proportions of lead. The bidri vessels and other objects are then inlaid or overlaid
Marquess of Dalhousie and GovernorGeneral of India from 1848-1856. References: 1. John Guy and Deborah Swallow, Arts of India: 1500-1900, 1990, pp. 118 and 199; Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, 1985, p. 322. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.
19 BIDRI SPIT TOON India (Deccan, Bidar), circa 1850 Height: 14.2 cm Diameter of lip: 10.8 cm Diameter of chamber: 6.9 cm
A bidri spittoon (pikhdan, tukhdan or ugaldan), inlaid with silver against a lustrous black ground, with a bulbous body of compressed globular form and a carinated upper edge, standing on a splayed foot with a narrow waist, rising to a broad neck and trumpet mouth with a wide everted rim completed by a raised edge. The decoration consists of friezes on the neck, body and foot with neoclassical garlands enclosing festooned urns, bordered by bands
of fronds, variegated flowers on scrolling vines and rows of buds. The surface of the rim is similarly decorated with garlands and wreaths. A charming detail in the main friezes on the neck and body is the motif of interlocking rings suspended from the ceiling through which the garlands are threaded.
Broun-Ramsay’s country house, the seat of his mother’s family for a millennium. Though his achievements were many, his tenure as Governor-General of India remains controversial and harshly judged by both his contemporary critics as well as modern historians. His great administrative ability created the map of modern India as a unified state, linked by prodigious developments in infrastructure including the laying of railways, roads, canals and telegraph lines.
However, his aggressive annexation of the
James Broun-Ramsay (1812-1860), 1st
Punjab and, unnecessarily, of Burma, led to
Marquess of Dalhousie and Governor-
the destruction of the East India Company’s
General of India from 1848-1856.
profits, to be replaced by a heavy loss-making
James Broun-Ramsay was the youngest
administration. Ruthless application of
surviving son of George Ramsay, 9th Earl
unpopular policies like the doctrine of lapse,
of Dalhousie and Christian née Broun of
whereby an Indian ruler without an heir had
Colstoun, East Lothian. The four bidri pieces
his territories annexed by the British, led to
in this catalogue come from Colstoun,
the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
20 BIDRI HOOKAH BASE India (Deccan, Bidar), circa 1850 Height: 17.3 cm Diameter: 8.4 cm
A bidri hookah base of elongated tapering pear-shape standing on a splayed foot, inlaid with silver against a lustrous black ground. The body is decorated with an overall diaper motif of trefoil flowers on sprigs, arranged in repeated horizontal lines that are staggered to produce a criss-crossing diagonal grid. The trefoil diaper is framed by a border of quatrefoil flowers to the swell of the body at its widest diameter, and another border of quatrefoil flowers at the shoulder. The simple device of contrasting quatrefoil bands with the trefoil diaper adds variety and charm to the repeated motifs, yet the close relation of the flower types produces a unified decoration to the sinuous lines of the hookah base over which the eye smoothly travels, unimpeded by
stark contrasts or startling changes of motifs. A projecting flange decorated with silver buds to the upper surface separates the body from the gradually widening neck of the hookah, decorated with a continuation of the trefoil sprig diaper. At the bottom of the hookah, below the lower quatrefoil border, is a frieze of lappets resembling lotus petals from which the hookah seems to rise. The sturdy foot is well-proportioned to provide robust support for a hookah that though elongated in profile is compact enough to provide stability when filled with liquid and placed on the floor. For a hookah base of similar shape in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, see Susan Stronge, Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, 1985, pp. 90-91, no. 92. Provenance: James Broun-Ramsay (1812-1860), 1st Marquess of Dalhousie and Governor-General of India from 1848-1856.
21 BIDRI HOOKAH BASE India (Deccan, Bidar), circa 1850 Height: 17.2 cm Diameter: 6.1 cm
An elegant bidri hookah base of elongated tapering pear-shape standing on a splayed foot, inlaid with silver against a lustrous black ground. The body is decorated with parallel horizontal bands of densely clustered leaves, flowers and fronds. The glittering silver bands are stacked in tiers of three to form friezes that contrast vividly with the wide bands of unadorned jet black bidri alloy. At the bottom of the hookah are three bands with different designs: the first of compacted five-leaved branches spaced by bifurcated sprigs; the second, on the swell of the vesselâ€™s belly, consisting of quatrefoil flowers on scrolling vines; and lowest down, just above the foot, is the third band with leafy fronds swept by the wind to the left. The splayed foot is decorated with a circle of pendant
buds. A plain band of matt black bidri separates these lower bands from three silver bands of similar design on the shoulder of the vessel. As the hookah tapers towards the top, a band of compacted pendant leaves forms a collar at the narrowest point. Above this, a projecting flange decorated with buds supports the widening neck decorated with two bands of leaves spaced by a strip of undecorated bidri in between. For hookah bases of similar shape in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, see Susan Stronge, Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, 1985, p. 88, no. 84, pp. 90-91, no. 92. See also Jagdish Mittal, Bidri Ware and Damascene work in the Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, 2011, pp. 128-129, no. 39. Provenance: James Broun-Ramsay (1812-1860), 1st Marquess of Dalhousie and GovernorGeneral of India from 1848-1856.
22 GEM-SET GOLD AND ENAMELLED BAZUBAND India (Jaipur), 19th century
four hinged segments composed of octagonal collets that decrease in size towards the clasps: the first of two diamonds with a small ruby at the interstice that projects into the next segment; the next with two emeralds and a small ruby; the third with two diamonds and a ruby; and the fourth with a trefoil arrangement of two cabochon rubies in octagonal collets with a tear-shaped diamond at the end.
Length: 12.8 cm Width: 2.8 cm
An elegant gold, enamelled and gem-set bazuband (armlet) set in the kundan technique with flat-cut diamonds, cabochon rubies and cabochon emeralds. The bazuband is enamelled on the reverse with polychrome floral designs on a white ground surrounding an oval cartouche with a mirror design of ducks swimming on a blue lake with waves of gold.
On the reverse of the central medallion is an oval cartouche containing two ducks swimming on water. Each duck has a red body, white head, neck and tail and yellow and green wing feathers. Two red lotus flowers emerge from the sides of the oval to flank the swimming water fowl. Surrounding the oval in each petal are red six-petalled flowers and green leaves floating against a white ground.
At the centre of the bazuband is a jewelled flower-head composed of an elongated octagonal collet with internal cusps set with a large diamond, from which radiate eight octagonal petals alternately set with rubies and emeralds. Flanking the central flower-head on each side are
23 A N U S H I R VA N E N T H R O N E D Iran (Shiraz), circa 1560 Folio: Height: 42.5 cm Width: 27 cm Miniature: Height: 33 cm Width: 20.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. An illustration from a Shahnama of Firdausi. The text of the Shahnama is written in black ink on cream paper, in four columns of fine nastaCliq with interlinear and intercolumnar
illumination framed by narrow gold bands, dark blue, red and orange margins, and fine black rules. On the illustrated page, the text is written in uncoloured clouds reserved against a gold ground decorated with polychrome flower-heads and scrolls. The columns are separated by vertical blue bands with trefoil flowers on sinuous tendrils. The margins are illuminated in gold with wild animals, mythical beasts and birds amidst trees, flowers and leaves. The fabulous animals include a simurgh to the upper left, swooping dramatically in the sky as it quizzically views the court scene in the main painting. On the verso are twenty-five lines of text in four columns, with intercolumnar bands in blue and gold decorated with floral scrolls. The heading is marked with an illuminated panel in lapis blue and gold decorated with flowers, leaves and arabesques. The title is written in white nastaCliq outlined in black within a gold cusped cartouche. This magnificent enthronement scene comes from a Shahnama manuscript, matched in quality and size by only a handful of Shiraz manuscripts from the
same period. This copy of Firdausi’s Shahnama represents Shiraz painting at its apogee in the second half of the sixteenth century. The manuscript was produced at a period when the best Shiraz painting outstripped manuscript production in the troubled imperial centre. Anushirvan, the son of Kay Qubad, is the Sasanian king celebrated for his battles with the Romans, his love of science and knowledge, and his discourses with men of learning. Almost as famous as the king himself is his minister, Buzurgmehr, the interpreter of dreams who becomes Anushirvan’s vizier. It is during Anushirvan’s reign that the game of chess is introduced to Persia from India and Buzurgmehr invents the game of backgammon.1 When still a young prince named Kisra, his father Qubad puts him in charge of dealing with Mazdak, a nobleman of great talent who appears at court professing a type of communism. At first, Qubad is sympathetic to his views and appoints him as treasurer, but Mazdak complains to the king that the prince is opposed to his teachings. His central idea is the confiscation and redistribution of wealth by the treasury in order to achieve social equality through eliminating all distinction between rich and poor. In response, Kisra arranges a debate between Mazdak and a group of Zoroastrian sages in which Mazdak is defeated. Qubad turns Mazdak and his three thousand followers over to Kisra who massacres all the Mazdakites by burying them head downwards with their feet in the air. He then hangs and
shoots Mazdak after which Qubad bestows the throne on Kisra. The prince is renamed Anushirvan, meaning “of immortal spirit”. Anushirvan begins his reign by the reorganisation of the realm into four provinces, the reduction of taxes, the subsidy of agriculture and the reform of the justice system. He also defeats the forces of Rum in battle, takes the great city of Antakiya (Antioch) and receives tribute from Caesar. In particular, he builds a wall between Iran and central Asia, to keep out attacks from that direction. An envoy from the Raja of Hind comes to Anushirvan’s court, bearing numerous gifts, amongst which are a chessboard and a set of chessmen. The envoy makes the unusual and original proposition that if the Persians can work out how the game is played, and correctly identify the pieces and their moves, they might call upon the Indians for tribute. However, if the Persians fail and the rules are not discovered, the reverse would be true and Iran would have to pay tax to India. Anushirvan asks the envoy for a week to work on this puzzle. All the sages of the court labour in vain until finally wise Buzurgmehr is sent for. Buzurgmehr discovers the rules of chess and the moves of the chess pieces in a single day and night (a subject often depicted in manuscripts), much to the annoyance of the Indian envoy. He then turns the tables on the Indian envoy by inventing backgammon (nard) and sends this game back to the Indian Raja with similar conditions. The Indians cannot find the rules and as a result they have to pay tax to Iran. The envoy returns to Anushirvan’s court with two thousand camels laden with tribute. Anushirvan is also responsible for bringing the book Kalila wa Dimna
from India to Iran and having it translated. At Anushirvan’s court is a celebrated physician named Barzwi who finds reference in an ancient Indian manuscript to a mountain herb capable of reviving the dead. Barzwi sets off for India to find the magic herb. After travelling far and searching in vain, his Indian guide puts Barzwi in touch with an ancient sage who has also long puzzled over the manuscript reference and has concluded that it must be metaphorical: the herb is the wise man and the mountain is knowledge. He tells Barzwi that the Indian Raja has a book in this treasury containing this knowledge entitled Kalila. Though the Raja is reluctant to hand over the book he agrees to let Barzwi read it in his presence and Barzwi reads a chapter a day seated next to the Raja, committing the text to memory as he goes along. Barzwi makes a transcription, sending a chapter a day to Anushirvan. On his return to Iran, he requests that when Buzurgmehr makes a fair copy of the whole book for Anurshirvan, this should include the story of how Barzwi has obtained the book.
one of the grandest and most accomplished of Shiraz illustrated manuscripts in the later sixteenth century. Ten illustrated leaves from this important Shahnama, including half the frontispiece, are in the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Calderwood Shahnama pages are discussed by Marianna Shree Simpson in Mary McWilliams (ed.), In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, 2013, pp. 77-113, 236-241, cat. nos. 94-101.
Provenance: Spink and Son, London Private Japanese Collection Published: Mary McWilliams (ed.), In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, 2013, p. 91, fig. 9. Reference: 1. The story of Anushirvan’s reign given here is compiled from B. W. Robinson, The Persian Book of Kings: An Epitome of The Shahnama of Firdawsi, 2002, pp. 119-127; and the new Penguin Classics translation by Dick Davis (trans.), Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, 2007, pp. 679-716.
Our Anushirvan leaf is illustrated on p. 91, fig. 9 and listed on p. 112 of Simpson’s Appendix 2 of surviving pages as folios 22a [877?] (illustration) and 22b [text].
Literature: Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings, (trans.) Dick Davis, 2007. B. W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in
Six pages are in the Los Angeles County Museum. Other leaves are in the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, the British Museum in London, the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore and the David Collection in Copenhagen.
the India Office Library, 1976. B. W. Robinson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleian Library, 1958. B. W. Robinson, The Persian Book of Kings: An Epitome of The Shahnama of Firdawsi, 2002. J. V. S. Wilkinson, The Shah-Nama of Firdausi, with 24 Illustrations from a fifteenth century manuscript formerly in the Imperial
This folio comes from a copy of Firdausi’s Shahanama that is
Library, Delhi and now in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1931.
24 E U RO P E A N L A DY WO R S H I P P I N G T H E S U N India (Mughal), circa 1595 Ascribed to Madhu Height: 15.5 cm Width: 10.4 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed with the name of the artist “Madhu” in Persian and devanagari in the lower border, numbered “4” in Hindi in the upper border and with ownership notes and seals on the verso. A richly dressed European woman raises her clasped hands in veneration and lifts her head to gaze fervently at the sun. As she steps forward, the folds of her blue skirt and red shawl billow dramatically around her gold robe in opulent sweeps of cloth. Her tasselled belt and the feathery fringe of her tunic add to the sense
of movement that conveys the inexorable power and intensity of her prayer. Even the landscape seems emotionally charged as tall floral sprays quiver as if swept by the wind. She wears over her braided locks a gold tiara and a diaphanous veil.
the sun as a revered symbol of oneness in all religions, a belief that led him to offer devotions at sunrise and at sunset. In the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, is a painting by Manohar of “Akbar praying to the sun”.
Another version of the same figure appears on a page of the Gulshan Album, attributed by John Seyller to Basawan circa 1590-1595. This painting, now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, is published by Seyller in his article on Basawan in Milo Cleveland Beach, Eberhard Fischer and B. N. Goswamy (eds.), Masters of Indian Painting Vol. 1: 11001650, 2011, pp. 122 and 129, no. 23, fig. 10. The posture of the lady and the colours of her costume are the same, but she is accompanied by a child who tugs at her robes and the scene is set in a rocky landscape.
The Bawasan painting is also published in John Guy and Jorrit Britschgi, Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India 1100-1900, 2012, p. 49, no. 13. Guy observes that Akbar promoted sun worship as part of his syncretic religion Din-iIlahi, designating Sunday as a holy day sacred to the sun. He had a lexicon of 1000 Sanskrit names of the sun to recite daily. Guy notes that a Basawan drawing in the Musée Guimet in Paris, after an untraced allegorical engraving, is the likely intermediary image.
As Seyller notes, the practice of praying towards the sun was sanctioned by Akbar, who perceived
A painting of the “Madonna Adoring the Sun” is published in Franz-Josef Vollmer with Friederike Weis, Angels and Madonnas in Islam: Mughal and other Oriental Miniatures in the Vollmer Collection, 2015, pp. 22 and 23, no. 4. This has elements related to the Basawan, with a child pulling on the Madonna’s scarf and the scene set in a rocky landscape.
Vollmer has drawn a parallel with the figure of Spes or Hope. He considers a 1566 engraving by Jerome Wierix as the closest European prototype; the virtue of Spes looks into a “light of hope” depicted by rays of the rising sun. Claudia Swan has drawn a comparison with early Netherlandish Magdelene figures. For Swan the billowing drapery is more Italianate and reminiscent of the figure of la ninfa, which for Aby Warburg represented the rebirth of classical antiquity. Our difficulty is to establish how such figures made their way to the Mughal court. Similarities with Basawan and other related pictures suggest that there was at one point an original European print that provided the inspiration, and what we have is one of a family of renditions. The librarians’ notes and seal inscriptions provide the following information: The earliest note is dated regnal year 43 of Akbar’s reign (1598). Under Jahangir, it was inspected in regnal year 8 (1613). Inspected in regnal year 10 (1615), accompanied by the oval seal of Abd al-Latif. Under Shah Jahan, it was registered as property of Asaf Khan Khan-e Khanan (brother of Nur Jahan and father of Mumtaz Mahal), and was entrusted to Muhammad Sharif in regnal year 15 (1642).
The composition of a European lady worshipping the sun is evidently based on a now unknown European print. In the absence of the original, scholars have discussed various possibilities as the source. Seyller suggests the woman may be adapted from St. John in Dürer’s 1508 Crucifixion, with John changed to a female in voluminous robes and a striking red shawl. However as John is a male figure and his robes do not billow but drape down in agony, we have searched for alternative sources in a range of possibilities. For David Jaffe, the pose of the lady is characteristic of donor figures in Renaissance paintings, while the billowing red shawl prefigures pictures of the seventeenth century such as the flow of sashes and robes in the work of Pietro da Cortona.
Entrusted to Muzaffar in regnal year 17 (1644). Entrusted to Shams in regnal year 18 (1645). Entrusted to La’l Chilah (?) in regnal year 29 (1656). The grading for this piece was given as “third”. Under Alamgir it was inspected in AH C
1069/1659 AD, accompanied by the seal of Azizullah (still using the Shah Jahani epithet). Seal impression of Sayyid Ali al-Husayni dated AH 1075/1664-1665 AD. Notes describe the painting: “Image of a woman who is praying to the Lordly Sun”; and attribute it to “Madhu”. Graded “avval” (first [class]), at upper left in a later hand and numbered “3” at the lower edge. Mewari inventory numbers 17/ and a clerical note dated AH 1111/1699-1700 AD. Provenance: The Khosrovani-Diba Collection Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Franz-Josef Vollmer and Claudia Swan for their expert advice.
25 HEINRICH BULLINGER India (Mughal), circa 1595 Height: 14.7 cm Width: 8.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. On the verso are Mughal seal impressions and librarians’ notes, Mewari inventory numbers 221, 20/210 and a Hindi clerical note dated AH 1111/1699-1700 AD. This painting of a bearded Christian figure wearing a large black cap is based on a European print, many of which arrived in India from the 1570s onwards through the activities of Jesuit missionaries, as well as Portuguese and other European traders, diplomats and travellers. It depicts a figure from the northern European Protestant Reformation rather than a Catholic
saint or a Biblical personage. The distinctive hat and thick fur coat are of a style associated with German, Swiss and English fashion of the sixteenth century. The figure most likely represents a Swiss Protestant clergyman. A close and convincing match for the facial characteristics, beard and sartorial style is that of the great Swiss Reformer, theologian and church leader, Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), whose portrait appeared in widely circulated prints of 1571, 1599 and 1602; all depict him with the large floppy hat, full beard and coat with long fur collars. The figure in our painting holds a book, presumably a Bible or a Reformist text in the European original, but here depicted with an Islamic binding with a fore-edge flap in the manner of a Qur’an manuscript. Many printed images of Protestant Reformers show them holding a book in this manner.
Copies of the 1599 line engraving of Bullinger made by Hendrik Hondius as an illustration to Jacobus Verheiden’s Praestantium aliquot theologorum of 1602, are in the British Museum as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London. Bullinger is also the subject of the oldest portrait glass panel in Zurich, where he worked at his ministry for forty-four years and became a leading citizen of the city. The portrait on the glass panel was made by the glass painter Daniel Forrer in Schaffhausen in 1571, based on a model by the artist Tobias Stimmer. The panel is now in the Landesmuseum Zürich. In 1570, Stimmer’s model was published as a one-page print in Strasburg by the book printer Bernhard Jobin. It shows Bullinger in his sixty-seventh year, his piercing eyes lit by fierce intelligence, his posture dignified and commanding, holding a book in hand next to the ubiquitous fur collar. While the hat and manner of dress are characteristic of Bullinger, what convinces us that this is a portrait of Bullinger are his distinctive facial features, most prominently his very long and thin nose, leading to a small mouth framed by a drooping moustache flowing into a copious beard of mid-length, covering but ending just below the neck. Bullinger did not sport the very long trailing beard worn by the Scottish Reformer, John Knox. Bullinger’s long nose is evident in a youthful 1550 oil portrait by Hans Asper. His eyes are set close to the top of his nose and framed by arched brows.
intensive study with Zwingli in Zurich in 1527, he became his assistant. In 1531, Zwingli was killed while accompanying a military force from Zurich as its chaplain. The Zurich forces were surprised and defeated at Kappel by an army from the central cantons of the Swiss Confederation, known as the Five Forest Cantons. The canton of Argovie was forced to revert to Catholicism and Bullinger was expelled from Bremgarten and he arrived in Zurich as a refugee. With his formidable reputation for teaching, writing and preaching, the churches of Bern, Basle and Zurich all offered him positions but loyal to Zurich, Bullinger accepted Zwingli’s old post as antistes, the highest office of the Collegiate Church, which he kept to his death in 1575. The present work is in a style characteristic of the very end of the sixteenth century; the earliest of the Mughal librarians’ notes gives us a terminus ante quem of 1596. The inscriptions and seals provide the following information:
The painting was given the grading “avval” (first [class]). The earliest librarian’s note is dated in regnal year 40 of Akbar’s reign (1596). There is a Jahangir period seal of Afzal Khan dated AH 1033/1623-1624 AD. In the Shah Jahan period it belonged to a certain Sharif al-Mulk and entered the royal library, where it was entrusted to the care of Muhammad Sharif in regnal year 4 (1631). Inspected in regnal year 18 (1645) when it was entrusted to Shams. Inspected in regnal year 24 (1651).
Bullinger was born at Bremgarten in the Swiss canton of Argovie. His father, also named Heinrich, was the Dean at Bremgarten. The younger Heinrich studied in Cologne University from 1519 to 1522. Influenced by his avid reading of Erasmus, Melanchthon and Luther, he gradually converted to the Reformed Protestant Church. From 1523-1528 he taught at the Cistercian monastery in Kappel, where he studied Greek and Hebrew and met Huldrych Zwingli, the leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. After
Inspected in regnal year 29 (1655), when it was transferred to the custody of La’l Chilah(?) from that of Shams. Seal impression of Inayat Khan. In the Alamgir period it was inspected C
in AH 1069/1659 AD. Seal impression of Azizullah (still using Shah Jahani epithet). Seal impression of Sayyid CAli al-Husayni dated AH 1075/1664-1665 AD. Mewari inventory numbers 221, 20/210 and a clerical note dated AH 1111/1699-1700 AD. Provenance: The Khosrovani-Diba Collection
26 AKBAR AND HIS MASTER MASON India (Mughal), 1600-1610 Folio: Height: 34.8 cm Width: 24 cm Miniature: Height: 17.2 cm Width: 12 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper, mounted on an album page within gold rules, narrow floral margins and wide gold floral borders. Inscribed in pencil on the reverse in English: “Saksena. Akbar and his master mason.” A prince sits enthroned on a magnificent hexagonal dais within a pillared red sandstone
pavilion, giving audience to a man who carries a mallet and a chisel. The prince is framed by a doorway behind his royal cushion and cusped red and gold throne back that leads through the white marble chini kana panel into the lush gardens behind. The man with the building tools stands before the prince on the lower level of audience, evidently deeply engaged in a discussion of construction matters with the prince, who gives him his undivided attention. So engrossed are they in conversation that they seem oblivious to the busy and teeming court that bustles around during the ruler’s daily darshan (viewing) with his audience of courtiers and citizens. Behind the prince are a chowrie (flywhisk) bearer and attendants carrying quivers full of bows and arrows. To the lower right falconers return from a hunt with feathered game for a feast. They are accompanied by a rifleman and palace clerks making notes. On the left are further courtiers, musicians and a groom with a horse. The horse is richly caparisoned and saddled up and may be ready for the prince to embark on a journey. The identification of the scene as Akbar (reigned 1556-1605) and his master mason is based on information
from Ram Babu Saksena, a great authority on Urdu literature. Saksena wrote his seminal work History of Urdu Literature in 1927. The old pencil note in English on the reverse may have been written by Saksena himself or more likely, by the previous owner of the painting after consulting Saksena or his writings. If the identification is correct, the master mason is Akbar’s superintendent of buildings, Muhammad Qasim Khan who was given the unlikely title of Mir Bahr (admiral) or officer in charge of the fleet of boats. In fact, Qasim Khan carried the joint titles of “Master of the Land and Sea Routes” (mir-i barr u bahr) and Master of Pyrotechnics (mir-i atish).1 He was responsible for the construction of the Agra Fort, completed in 1573. Though none of the Mughal written sources mention the planners and architects who devised the city of Fatehpur Sikri and its individual structures, Qasim Khan would have certainly played a leading role.2 The predominantly red sandstone buildings in the miniature recall the architecture and materials used in the construction of Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar gave the order to begin construction of his fabled City of Victory in 1571 but he was resident there for only fourteen years until 1585. Qasim Khan was not a builder in the modern sense but a high ranking nobleman and poet, and the hammer and chisel he carries in the painting are symbolic of his office rather than evidence that he was a workman himself. He was famous for making mines, building bridges, rest houses, roads and palaces and he conquered Kashmir. He was murdered in Kabul in 1594, the 39th year of Akbar’s reign.3 Abu’l Fazl says that he was one of the great officers of state and he is already mentioned in the Akbarnama
during Humayun’s reign.4 It is not clear when he entered Akbar’s service. If it is indeed Akbar in our painting, the emperor looks extremely young; we know however he was only thirteen when he came to the throne, though the painting was made several decades later. A seal on the back belonged to Naqabat Khan, Najm al-Daula Zafar Jang Bahadur, an eighteenth century nobleman possibly from the Deccan. We note with interest that the seal is identical to that on the reverse of the painting of “Aurangzeb at a Jharokha Window”, cat. no. 29 of the present catalogue, so Naqabat Khan was the owner of both paintings in the eighteenth century.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Robert Skelton for his expert advice and for kindly providing information on Akbar’s master builder, Muhammad Qasim Khan. References: 1. Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry, Akbar’s India: Art from the Mughal City of Victory, 1985, pp. 38 and 130, footnote 14. 2. Ibid. 3. H. Beveridge (trans.), The Akbar Nama of Abu-l-Fazl, 1897, vol. III, p. 49 of Index. 4. Ibid., vol. I, pp. 507-508.
27 GUJARI RAGINI Northern India (Mughal artist at Awadh), 1750-1760 Signed Fath Chand Folio: Height: 28 cm Width: 18.3 cm Miniature: Height: 13.6 cm Width: 7.7 cm
clouds but there is sufficient light to study her fine features ornamented by jewellery, her diaphanous scarf and gossamer choli (blouse), and her golden skirt with red poppy sprigs tied with a lavender patka (sash). The artist has signed his name in Persian on the trunk of the tree: amal-i fath chand
“The work of Fath Chand”. Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. A leaf from a Ragamala series. The soft and delicate mood of a quiet, contemplative evening permeates this exquisite miniature of Gujari Ragini, who is seated by a tree playing a vina with hennaed fingers and a plectrum. The cool night air, the haunting strains of her music and the meditative, spell-binding atmosphere are all at once evanescent yet tangible. We are lulled by the painting’s many charms to join Gujari in this leafy glade by a stream under the dense branches of the tree. The moon is all but hidden by
Mounted within very fine gold floral illuminated borders, the inner border of stylised flowers on a scrolling vine against a caramel ground, the outer border with an arabesque of finely shaded flowers and leaves against a buff ground. The leaf is sprinkled with gold on the reverse indicating that the borders are contemporary with the miniature. Above the miniature is a blind gold panel consisting of a cusped cartouche reserved against a blue ground decorated with flowers to the spandrels and margins. Inscribed in Persian to the bottom centre of the outer border is the subject of the painting: gujari This miniature is from a Ragamala series dispersed at auction in the 1960s. The artist Fath Chand painted nineteen of the total of thirty-six miniatures and the remainder were by Muhammad Faqirullah Khan. According to Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, both artists were exponents at the time of the execution of this Ragamala series of an almost pure Mughal style, notable for its neat and careful execution. However, the Sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739 and the death of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah in 1748 led to many Mughal artists leaving the capital to seek patronage elsewhere, where they adapted to the style
of flourishing local courts such as that of Lucknow. Jerry Losty has observed that Fath Chand displays in his paintings for this Ragamala series decided tendencies towards the style of Awadh, with many moon-faced ladies depicted in three-quarter profile. A leaf from this Ragamala series by Fath Chand depicting Kakubha Ragini in the British Library is published in Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, pp. 123-124 and 427, no. 201. This miniature is surmounted by a similar blind cartouche and mounted within similar sprinkled gold borders; these are features of all the paintings in this series. Another scene of Kedara Ragini in which a musician entertains a prince on the roof of a water pavilion at night was formerly at Spink and Son, London. Other pages from this series are published in the Maggs Bulletin No. 8, Ragamala Paintings & Eastern Music, February 1965, pl. XXIII-XXV. Pl. XXIII, no. 5, is another night scene by Fath Chand of Bhairavi Ragini. In contrast to these dark moody evocations of which he is undoubtedly a master, a brilliantly lit Todi Ragini is at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2004.180). An example from this series by Faqirullah Khan is in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (2004.45); while his Dipak Raga, now in the San Diego Museum of Art, is published in Edwin Binney, 3rd, Indian Miniature Painting from The Collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd: The Mughal and Deccani Schools, 1973, p. 107, no. 84. Provenance: The Sam Kenrick Collection It was during his time in India and Sri Lanka as a development officer for Christian Aid and later Oxfam that Sam Kenrick really became interested in the art of the sub-continent. His Asian collection consists of paintings depicting Indian subjects by both Indian and European artists, and art from India and Sri Lanka, from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.
28 DHANASRI RAGINI India (Bilaspur), 1730-1740 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 17.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Ragamala series. This painting comes from a set of twelve Ragamala paintings from Bilaspur. They are part of a series originally containing eighty-four miniatures based on the iconography and sounds of nature or human activities described by the verses of Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system, which was used by the painters of the Punjab Hills. All the paintings have red borders with black and white rules and three inscriptions on the reverse. The first inscription on the verso in takri has been torn off. The second inscription is in devanagari: malakonse di ragani dhanasuri pajoi / 5 patra 6 Further inscribed in takri: malkause di ragani dhanusri 5 / patha 5 “Dhanasri Ragini, fifth wife of Malkaus Raga”.
Dhanasri Ragini is the lady who sits within her elegant apartment leaning against a cushion, caressing a large rabbit or hare on her lap while she listens to her sakhi (confidante). The sakhi seems to be speaking in earnest, accompanying her absorbing narrative with plenty of hand gestures. Dhanasri seems not to answer but just listens intently, while the rabbit looks away, distracted by something outside but not sufficiently to move from the comfort of being stroked by the lady. A similar painting from the Ragamala set from Basohli-Bilaspur now in Berlin is illustrated in Ernst and Leonore Waldschmidt, Miniatures of Musical Inspiration in the Collection of the Berlin Museum of Indian Art, Part I: Ragamala Pictures from the Western Himalaya Promontory, 1967, fig. 38. This shows Dhanasri seated on a hexagonal dais set in a glade in the company of four hares, two standing and two recumbent, to which she extends her hands to tickle their chins. Kshemakarna’s Ragamala system used by the artists of the Punjab Hills contains two sets of verses. In the first set, each musical mode is described as a person. In the second, Kshemakarna compares each raga, ragini (wife) or ragaputra (son) to a sound either found in nature, such as the hiss of a snake or the voice of a bird,
or made by a human activity, such as churning butter or washing clothes.1 Though loosely based on Kshemakarna, Pahari artists devised their own imaginative iconographies for his verses, modifying his interpretations, combining the sounds he describes with the images he suggests, and incorporating word play in the ragas themselves. In his stanza 100, Kshemakarna compares the music of Dhanasri to the voice of the hare who “speaks” the musical mode. The dhyana stanza 31 provides a description that is unrelated to our painting or to the Berlin page. It describes Dhanasri’s hair as black and curly, her garment as spotted in black-andwhite; her companions are Jaitasri and Bhimapalasini and she holds a pomegranate in her hand. None of these elements are evident in Pahari depictions of Dhanasri which concentrate on the voice of the rabbit or hare which manifests as the actual animal. Another Dhanasri Ragini is illustrated in Klaus Ebeling, Ragamala Painting, 1973, p. 280, no. 327. Here she holds one rabbit on her lap while another sits before her. An attendant stands to the right holding a flywhisk. This painting is from the same series as two paintings also formerly in the Alma Latifi Collection,
discussed in W. G. Archer, Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills, 1973, vol. I, p. 237, Kahlur (Bilaspur) nos. 31(i) and 31(ii); vol. II, p. 179, pls. 31(i) and 31(ii). These are Sandhuri Ragini, consort of Hindola Raga, and his son, Vinoda Ragaputra. Archer notes that the series is of significance for Bilaspur painting as it forms a bridge between early Ragamalas of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, and later mid eighteenth century styles. The series is notable for its cleanly modelled forms, suave precise design and sharply phrased faces. Elegance is enhanced by the light, almost ethereal colouring against which delicate details like hair, jewellery, ornaments, jalis and vegetation spin a filigree. The elongated vertical format stretches out and narrows down inner components such as doors, towers and turrets. Note in this picture the tall and thin chini kana compartments and the slim turrets also observed in Archer’s Vinoda Ragaputra. Two paintings from this series at the Museum Rietberg Zürich are published in B. N. Goswamy, Jeremiah P. Losty and John Seyller, A Secret Garden: Indian Paintings from the Porret Collection, 2014, pp. 178-181, cat. nos. 90 and 91. Three paintings are in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Robert Skelton for their expert advice and kind reading of the inscriptions. Reference: 1. Catherine Glynn, Robert Skelton and Anna L. Dallapiccola, Ragamala Paintings from India: From the Claudio Moscatelli Collection, 2011, pp. 19-20.
29 A U R A N G Z E B AT A J H A R O K H A W I N D O W India (Mughal), 1710-1720 Ascribed to Mir Muhammad Isfahani Height: 17.5 cm Width: 12.8 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper.
Aurangzeb (born 1618, reigned 1658-1707), also known by his regnal title CAlamgir (Conqueror of the World), appears in his old age in a repentant pose, leaning against a cushion and seated hunched-over at a jharokha window within a white marble tower flanked by plain white walls on either side.1 The sparse setting appears to underscore the ascetic nature of his religious rule.
Inscribed on the verso in nastaCliq: amal-i Mir Muhammad Isfahani [with the posthumous name for CAlamgir], Hazrat Khuld Makani
Inscribed on the recto to the top of the painting in devanagari: shahayari? In this austere but moving posthumous portrait, the emperor
The window is decorated with a sumptuous rug over the balustrade and another rolled up at the top, but the emperor himself is dressed in a plain yellow jama with red lappets under his arm. His only other ornaments are a simple pearl necklace with a haldili (amulet) worn as a pendant, and an understated turban. His profile is framed by a grey nimbus devoid of radiance and his hands are lifted in prayer, presumably
attesting to his pious nature and perhaps asking for forgiveness for the harsh and intolerant rule of his earlier years. His hair and beard are completely white and he conveys an air of fragility, yet his stern expression and the still powerful gaze of his eyes betray the steely determination characteristic of his entire life and reign. The background of his monastic sanctum is a dark grey, enlivened by the red inner frame of the window, and contrasting with the blue cloudless sky above the white palace building. A number of examples are known with Aurangzeb in this pose, including one in the British Museum (1920.0922.214.171.124); the Cleveland Museum of Art (1944.498); and the San Diego Museum of Art (1990.366), where the composition includes two guards standing at ground level. A painting of circa 1700 depicting “Aurangzeb in his old age” in a similar pose reading a Qur’an at a jharokha window is in the Johnson Album 2, no. 2, at the British Library in London. This is published in Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, pp. 99 and 417, no. 138ii. This painting is also published by J. P. Losty and Malini Roy in Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, 2012, p. 159, fig. 101.
in an idealised manner that would contravene his religious beliefs.3 Though our portrait dates from several decades later than the painting in the British Library, it follows the established format of the aged emperor seated at prayer against a cushion at the jharokha, or piously studying the Qur’an, of which he memorised every verse and chapter. For Losty and Roy, the frown lines on his forehead and the deep circles under his eyes reflect the complex political issues of his lengthy rule as well as the solace he found in his devotion to religion.4 A seal on the back of the present painting shows that it once belonged to a nobleman named Naqabat Khan, Najm al-Daula Zafar Jang Bahadur. The seal is dated AH 1166/1752-1753 AD and notes in the inscription that Naqabat Khan is the owner of the painting. Of great interest is the fact that Naqabat Khan, of whom we have little information other than the fact that he had a good library in the eighteenth century, was also the owner of the Mughal painting of “Akbar and his Master Builder” illustrated in cat. no. 26 of the present catalogue; this carries an almost identical square seal bearing his name. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank John Seyller
According to Losty and Roy, such window portraits are obviously not royal commissions as in his eleventh regnal year (1668-1669) Aurangzeb abolished the daily practice of darshan, the public viewing of the emperor at the jharokha window, which he considered idolatrous.2 His increasing piety and interest in Islamic law led him away from supporting artists, as he did not wish to be pictured
for kindly deciphering the seal. References: 1. Terence McInerney has observed that the white marble tower with its minimal pietra dura decoration to the top of the frieze above the eaves bears a striking resembling to the architecture seen in Pahari paintings. 2. J. P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, 2012, pp. 149-150 and 159. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid., p. 159.
30 T H E C R E AT I O N O F R A H U T H E D E M O N O F E C L I P S E S India (Guler), 1770-1775 Height: 24.8 cm Width: 31.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. The Churning of the Ocean (Samudramanthana) is one of the most important secondary creation myths, a titanic episode from the depths of mythic time.1 The story is narrated in the Mahabharata as well as some of the Puranas (“stories of old”, ancient myths concerning the creation of the world), including the Vishnu Purana, the most important of all Puranas, dedicated to Vishnu who is celebrated as the beginning and end of creation.2 The vast ocean is seen as the repository of all potentialities, and only through the joint effort of the gods and the danavas (anti-gods and demons) would it be possible to churn it in order to retrieve precious objects and divine beings beneficial to mankind. 3 The Vishnu Purana states that this superhuman endeavour succeeds because Vishnu makes peace with the danavas and persuades them to join the gods in this monumental task. As a reward, the davanas would receive their share of the amrita (the nectar of immortality) and thus become immortal.4 Mount Mandara is chosen as the churning rod, Vasuki the king of the nagas (serpents) coils himself around the mountain as rope and Vishnu in the form of his tortoise avatar Kurma provides the base for the rod. The gods hold Vasuki’s tail while the danavas pull alternately on his head. The enterprise of churning the ocean is a great
success. Magical treasures, celestial beings and fabled animals emerge including Surabhi, the cow of plenty; the Parijata tree; Varunin, the goddess of wine; the goddess Lakshmi seated on a lotus; Indra’s three-headed elephant Airavata; Vishnu’s Kaustubha gem and, Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, who carries the vessel full of precious amrita.5 Once the churning operation is over, the gods and davanas sit down to share the amrita. Despite their recent collaboration, there is little trust between them and as soon as the spoils emerge, the demons grab the nectar of immortality for themselves. Vishnu acts quickly and assumes the form of a beautiful woman, Mohini “the enchantress”, to divert the attention of the asuras, recover the vessel and deprive them of their share of the nectar. She distributes the amrita amongst the gods; they drink their fill and reinvigorated, resume their battle with the danavas to defeat them resoundingly.5 However, one crafty demon named Svarbhanu (splendour of radiance) disguises himself as a god in order to gain some of the nectar but he is detected by Surya the sun god and Chandra the moon god who are seated beside him in this painting, but not before he manages to sip some of the amrita that renders him immortal. Vishnu’s chakra (discus) decapitates Svarbhanu but the effects of the nectar cannot be reversed so his head continues to survive as Rahu (seizer), the demon of the eclipses. Rahu’s head circles the sky for eternity, pursuing the sun and the moon in a vain attempt to swallow them in revenge.6 He occasionally succeeds and causes the eclipse of the sun and the moon. Svarbhanu’s torso also lives on, having digested some amrita and becomes Ketu, the twin brother of Rahu. In Indian astronomy, Rahu is identified with the ascending node of the moon, while his tail is identified with Ketu, the descending node. Rahu kulu (Rahu time) is an inauspicious time occurring daily at different hours and it is advisable to avoid
new or difficult enterprises during this period.7 Prior to Svarbhanu’s new manifestation as Rahu and Ketu, he was already the demon in the Rig Veda responsible for the solar eclipse in Vedic mythology. In the Family Books of the Rig Veda, Svarbhanu is described as striking the sun with darkness and overshadowing the sun. Indra strikes down Svarbhanu and the sage Atri finds the hidden sun and replaces it in the sky. Svarbhanu is an assistant of Venus (Shukra), one of the navagrahas (nine planets) along with Rahu and Ketu. Prefiguring Hindu Puranic mythology, in the Vedas he also drinks the amrita and becomes immortal though his body is split into Rahu (head) and Ketu (tail). Though in the Puranas it is Vishnu that hurls the discus to decapitate Rahu, it is not so clear in this painting who has thrown the discus. It seems most likely with her powerful gestures that it is Mohini who has hurled the discus as she is after all Vishnu in disguise.
Vishnu himself, looking sheepish seated between Brahma and Shiva, still holds his discus, as well as his other attributes: the conch, lotus and mace in his hands. Jerry Losty has suggested the possibility that in this painting the Devi may have usurped Mohiniâ€™s role. Thus the painting may be an illustration to the Devi Bhagavata Purana, the other great text of Devi worship, which replaces Vishnu with Devi in some of his exploits as preserver of the world. It is likely that this fantastic painting is earlier than the various Devi Mahatmya series which began to be produced between 1775 and 1780. The spectacular imagery of gods and demons gathered en masse and the
power of the Devi or Mohini would have contributed to the development of the imagery used in the Devi Mahatmya series. Though the subject of the painting is extremely rare, another almost identical version is published in the Sothebyâ€™s London catalogue, Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, Monday 10th April, 1989, p. 23, cat. no. 87, colour pl. II. This is catalogued as an illustration to the Mahabharata, but given a date of 1745 which is too early.
gives a full account of the subject in his Catalogue of the Indian collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Part V, Rajput Painting, 1926, no. CIV, p. 140, pl. LXI. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. References: 1. Anna L. Dallapiccola, Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend, 2002, p. 51. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid.
A late eighteenth century Kangra drawing of the same scene is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, (17.2552). Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid., pp. 51 and 160. 7. Ibid., p. 160.
31 W O M E N P L AY I N G C H A U PA R O N A R I V E R T E R R A C E India (Kangra), circa 1800 Height: 23.5 cm Width: 17.2 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Mounted on an album page with a bluish grey inner border decorated with scrolling vines, gold trefoil leaves and silver five-petalled flowers with red centres, within a distinctive outer border of staggered red lines against a pink ground. The nayika (heroine) of this charming painting is a noblewoman seated on a white marble terrace on the river with three attendants playing a game of chaupar, the cross-shaped board placed on the floor between the four players. She holds the dice in her hennaed hand as it is her turn to throw, but the game is suddenly interrupted by a standing attendant or sakhi (confidante) who has just entered the scene and seems to be bringing the lady some news, perhaps information regarding the absent nayaka or hero.
She reacts with trepidation and bashfully cups her face in the palm of her left hand, while her right hand loosens its grasp allowing the dice to roll. Her three gaming companions also react to the news with some alarm, each placing their fingers on their lips in conventional expressions of wonderment. However, judging by the gentle smiles on the faces of the three attendants and the sakhi, the news cannot be too bad and the overwrought and presumably lovelorn heroine is just worrying unnecessarily. On the left is a bird cage with its cover drawn to one side to reveal a pet bird and tiny gold food and water vessels. The scene is framed by a white marble cusped arch and jali balustrades to the front and back. Hung from the apex of the arch is a striped and rolled blind fastened by a cord. In the background across the river are rolling hills and cliffs with isolated white towers perched on the summits. A procession of villagers carrying goods on their heads makes its way laboriously up a lower slope. Delightful anecdotal details
include the ferries in the river crammed full of passengers crossing, guarded by soldiers with flags and spears, and two groups of men floating on the water, clinging desperately onto animal skins inflated with air. The ancient game of chaupar that the women play is the ancestor of pachisi, the national game of India, both created in the fourth century. Chaupar is a skilful and complex game for four players in two teams. The board, made of wood or cloth, has the configuration of a symmetrical cross with four arms of equal length, each with three adjacent columns of eight squares. Chaupar uses sixteen game pieces of beehive shape in four colours of yellow, black, red and green. Each player has four pieces of one colour. The objective is to move all four pieces completely around the board anti-clockwise before the opponents do so. The movements are based on the throw of the three long dice held in the hand of the noblewoman. A similar painting in the Kangra idiom depicting a â€œFamily at Playâ€? on a terrace overlooking the river in the James Ivory Collection is attributed
to Datarpur by Stuart Cary Welch in A Flower from Every Meadow: Indian Paintings from American Collections, 1973, p. 86, no. 50. The scene is framed by a similar marble arch and jali balustrades and the painting also has a border of staggered red lines on a pink ground. In the background are two castles set on high cliffs which may be Siba and Diba that face each other across the river Beas. According to both Welch and Jerry Losty, the distinctive layout of the background with the confronting castles is suggestive of the topography of Datarpur, a small state near Guler. While Losty assigns the James Ivory painting to a Kangra artist perhaps working at Datarpur, he has kindly observed that the background in our painting is not specific enough with the two castles to be necessarily classified as Datarpur.1 In any case, Datarpur paintings are a sub-variety of the Kangra school and the Kangra artist of our painting could have copied the river and hill topography from an earlier painting with a similar background.2
Provenance: The Sam Kenrick Collection It was during his time in India and Sri Lanka as a development officer for Christian Aid and later Oxfam that Sam Kenrick really became interested in the art of the ub-continent. His Asian collection consists of paintings depicting Indian subjects by both Indian and European artists, and art from India and Sri Lanka, from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. References: 1. Personal communication with Jerry Losty. 2. Ibid.
32 A P R I N C E R E S O LV E S A D I S P U T E India (Guler), circa 1820 Height: 23.1 cm Width: 16.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. This fascinating miniature depicts an enigmatic scene that eludes a full interpretation. It has been published twice, yet on both occasions the description of the scene has been unsatisfactory. When first described in a catalogue by the venerable Leipzig firm of booksellers Karl W. Hiersemann in the 1930s, no clear attempt was made to interpret the scene and there is misunderstanding of the figures and their gestures. When published again in a Sotheby’s catalogue in 1987, the painting was given the title of “A Prince receives a Revered Ascetic and his Wife in a Palace Courtyard”. This seems unlikely as in most paintings when a ruler receives or visits a famous ascetic, they are seated face to face, engaged in scholarly conversation on esoteric matters of the spirit. Here there is no eye contact between the prince and the ascetic, if he is one at all, and the entire court seems to be listening intently to what appears to be a heated argument between the man and his wife. The man and his wife are seen twice: walking towards the palace with their heads glimpsed beyond the wall, and again seated inside the courtyard. They are dressed very simply in contrast to the jewelled splendour of the prince and his courtiers. Two intermediary figures seated to the right of the couple seem to be village elders involved in the discussion, more formally dressed than the man and the woman, yet clearly lacking the finery of the courtiers and without symbols of rank such as jewellery or daggers. The careful attention to the sumptuary depiction of the four courtiers: the prince, his vizier or minister seated beside him and the two ladies of the court, their attendance required perhaps because of the presence of the man’s
conventional symbol of the thought process. His light moustache and beard indicate his youth. The minister seated next to him is clearly an elder statesman who would no doubt give pertinent advice. The noblewomen are grandly but modestly dressed with long skirts and sleeves, hennaed fingers and toes, and an abundance of jewellery. The woman on the right seems stunned by the revelations, while her companion appears to have formed an opinion on how best to adjudicate in a case like this.
wife, is set in hierarchical opposition to the four visitors of humbler rank. While we cannot fully understand the scene, the psychological intensity is telling. This is indicated by the wide variety of facial expressions captured in a masterly way. The man, with his bald forehead, unkempt locks and straggly hair, seems harassed and worried with furrowed brow and a look of perpetual strain on his face. The woman in contrast bears at all times a wry smile and a look of mischief; she appears to have the upper hand. Her face outside the palace wall shows signs of hatching a plan or craftily formulating her arguments. In the courtyard, she stands over her husband, with one breast casually exposed though she is at court, talking to him in a confident manner while his exasperated rebuttals seem to miss their mark. The two men seated to one side also chip into the debate, but so intent is the concentration of the man and the woman on each other that they pay scant attention to any comments coming from the side. Is she even his wife? We will never know the answer.
catalogue no. 669 was published during the Second World War. Our painting, which is listed in catalogue no. 626, must have been published sometime in the 1930s. The description for the painting from Katalog 626: Indien, is stuck to the back of the frame: “From Karl W. Hiersemann-Leipzig, Königstrasse 29 (King’s Street).
585. Indian prince with his Vizier in the
Karl Wilhelm Hiersemann, 1854-1928, a
foreground. The men and women in the
German bookseller and publisher in Leipzig
audience beg. An Indian miniature in fine,
whose firm published the painting in their
gold-coated paint. Framed in a golden
catalogue no. 626, Indien, in the 1930s.
flower border on a deep blue background (19th century). 18,5:25 cm. On board
Hiersemann came from a peasant family but
dappled in red.
had decided by the age of thirteen that he
Extremely finely executed miniature. In
wanted to be a bookseller. He graduated
the foreground: Richly decorated/dressed
after years of training with established
women and men beg. In the background,
Leipzig booksellers such as List & Franke,
the young prince is shown in a pensive and
and J. Bensheim in Mannheim. In 1876, he
thoughtful attitude on his Diwan, a couple is
went to London to work at the antiquarian
just leaving the audience near him. His Vizier
bookshops David Nutt and Trübner &
is next to him in a sitting position with his
Co. From 1881 he worked for KF Koehler
Antiquarium in Leipzig. Published:
The prince sits listening, leaning against a pink bolster within the marble pavilion. He is cast in a heroic mould, classically handsome with fine features and flowing locks. His expression is contemplative and his eyes display a keen intelligence. His hand held towards his mouth is a
On his 30th birthday in 1884, Hiersemann
Karl W. Hiersemann, Katalog 626: Indien,
founded his own company KW Hiersemann,
1930s, cat. no. 585.
a “Special Bookstore for Orientalia,
Sotheby’s Bond Street, Fine Oriental
Contemporary linguistics, art, architecture,
Manuscripts and Miniatures, 14th December
applied arts, numismatics and genealogy”.
1987, lot 86.
The business developed quickly from modest
beginnings to become a leading international
bookshop of world renown. By 1924, 540
We would like to thank Ashley Crawford for
catalogues had been published and the last
her kind translation of the German text.
33 R A D H A’ S M A N I F E S T S T U P O R
India (Kangra), circa 1820 Height: 26 cm Width: 16.8 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Rasikapriya series. Inscribed in devanagari to the top of the pink speckled border: radhika ki prakasa jadata “Radha’s manifest stupor” Further inscribed in the upper left corner with the folio number “190”. On the protective flyleaf is a Royal Mandi Library stamp. Inscribed on the reverse in red and black devanagari with a couplet (doha) from the Rasikapriya of Keshav Das that describes the scene: radhika ki prakasa jadata// yatha// savaiya// anshiyan mili sakhiyan mili patiyan mili vatiyat jimo
nay// dhyan vidhan mili man hi man jyo miliran kumno may sone// kesav kaise hoon veg milo nato haive he hari jo kachhu hone// pooran prem samadhi mile mili je hetu homi li hot vakone// 49 Radha’s manifest stupor (jadata) [the] sakhi (confidante) [says] to [the] nayaka (hero) - “First she met you in person, then through the help of her friends, then through the medium of letters. Finding this dissatisfying, she met you in her imagination, as a poor person dreams of gold. You should now go and meet her, lest the inevitable should befall her; for if in the supreme contemplation of love, she is united to her lord, all distance between you and her will be removed.” 1 This painting illustrates Radha’s “Manifest jadata”. Jadata, which means both indifference and stupor, is one of the ten states (dasa dashas) of love in separation. According to M. S. Randhawa, the desire for union springs from seeing and hearing the beloved. When the desire to meet is not fulfilled, ten conditions of increasing intensity result from the separation: longing, anxiety, reminiscence, the recalling of the qualities of the beloved one, agitation, delirium, sickness, stupor (jadata),
derangement and finally, death. Jadata dasha is the seventh state, in which all consciousness is lost and the sensations produced by pain and pleasure are the same.2 Here Radha is in such a desolate state that she is past caring and minds to give up the ghost. She sits dejected at the upper window, her head downcast and held in the palm of her hand. Her apartment is as exquisitely decorated as her finely dressed person, but both are pervaded by a sense of profound emptiness. In one of the niches is a gold pandan, an exquisite but lone object against a backdrop of resoundingly empty shelves. Radha is oblivious to the scene on the terrace below, where an older grey-haired sakhi explains to Krishna Radha’s state of mind. Krishna wears a peacock crown and a yellow robe that sings against his dark blue skin; he carries a cowherd’s staff. Though he appears to listen intently, his eyes have the same disengaged glazed look as Radha’s, very different from the concentration and direct gaze of the sakhi’s eyes, for the affect of the sakhi’s counsel is to produce in Krishna his own jadata. As she tells another sakhi in the next verse: “His body is getting colder and colder; all remedies have been thought of and tried. Whatever you may do to his body, it gives him no sensation of pleasure and pain. He hears and understands nothing. Whom shall we consult now; who shall know his disease now? No one knows if this is the result of yoga or the outcome of separation.”3 The lack of eye
contact between the hero and the heroine signifies their separation, while the sakhi’s intervention falls on the deaf ears of a hero deep in self absorption. As Randhawa notes, the Rasikapriya is not just a love poem but the situations described show the relationship of the Soul and God. The lack of darshan between nayika and nayaka illustrates the lack of contact between the Soul and God, and the resultant suffering from this spiritual separation. Keshav Das, a Brahmin from Orchha in Bundelkhand, was the court poet of Raja Madhukar Shah. He wrote his famous Hindi love poem in 1591. “The Lover’s Breviary” analyses the stages of love through analogy with incidents involving the ideal lovers, Radha and Krishna. The verses are miracles of compactness, painting in a few words neat little pictures, coloured with the richness and sweetness of a lyrical language. Vivid scenes are drawn in a couple of lines. On account of their compactness, the dohas are particularly suitable as themes for miniature painting.4 The Kangra style effectively conveys the richness and sweetness inherent in the poetry.
Provenance: Mandi Royal Collection Private German Collection Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Jerry Losty and Rukmani Kumari Rathore for their expert advice. References: 1. M. S. Randhawa, Kangra Paintings on Love, 1962, pp. 118-119. 2. Ibid., p. 101. 3. Ibid., p.119. 4. Ibid., p. 28.
34 THE SAGE NAR ADA COUNSELS A KING India (Guler or Kangra), 1810-1820 Height: 20.8 cm Width: 31 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Narada is a great Vedic sage, famous in Hindu traditions as a travelling musician and story teller, dispensing advice and wisdom to gods, kings and men. The word nara means knowledge useful to mankind while da means giver, so his name means “the one who gives knowledge”. However, Narada is also prone to mischief and as a cosmic busybody that loves to meddle, goes continuously to and fro between heaven and earth, interfering in the affairs of men. His great weakness is the disclosure of the secrets of the gods and demons to each other, thus sowing friction and causing trouble, sometimes leading to war. He thus has a nickname, Kalahapriya, or “the lover of quarrels”. Narada appears in many important Hindu texts, notably the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as the Puranas. Narada always carries a vina of which he
is the consummate master, having invented the instrument. As Narada visits countless kings during his incessant travels, it is difficult to determine precisely, in the absence of an inscription, the identity of the king that he is counselling. What is clear is that the king plays an active part in the dialogue, in which he is fully engaged; he does not just listen quietly, a passive recipient of Narada’s advice. It is possible that this scene portrays the moment in the Mahabharata when Janaka, King of Mithila, discusses with Narada how best to find an appropriate husband for his daughter Sita. Narada reassures Janaka by saying that Sita is the incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi and therefore can only be wed to an avatar of Vishnu. They devise a contest in which Janaka promises his daughter’s hand to the man who can string the bow of Shiva. In the famous story from the Ramayana, this plan draws contestants from many lands to Mithila, including Rama, prince of Ayodhya, who proceeds to break the bow in a show of strength, thus revealing himself to be the incarnation of Vishnu. Rama and Sita are married shortly thereafter.
35 S U D A M A A R R I V E S AT D VA R A K A T O V I S I T K R I S H N A India (Mandi), 1830-1840 Height: 33.8 cm Width: 46.7 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration from a Krishna-Sudama series. Krishna is seated on a golden throne beneath a velvet awning in a courtyard of his magnificent palace. An attendant informs Krishna of Sudama’s arrival at the palace gates while Rukmini observes from a window high above. Sudama, childhood friend of Krishna, is a Brahman and master of the Vedas. Serene of mind, with no worldly attachments, Sudama leads a life of spiritual purity but great privation. Sudama and his wife have little to eat, are clad in rags and dwell in a decrepit hovel. Emaciated with hunger, Sudama’s wife asks him to visit Krishna, now a great king in Dvaraka. Krishna, she implores, will understand his circumstances and bestow wealth on a poverty-stricken householder. Reluctantly, Sudama agrees. She gives him four handfuls of parched rice (prthukas) tied up in an old cloth as a gift to Krishna.
The story has a happy ending. Krishna welcomes his friend with open arms, embraces Sudama with tears in his eyes, washes his feet and sprinkles drops of water from the basin on his own head. Though Sudama is too reserved to offer his humble gift, Krishna seizes the parcel and eats the flat rice with delight. Next morning, Sudama takes his leave of Krishna. All this time, he has not had the courage to ask for anything. Sudama arrives home to find his hut transformed into a palace surrounded by pleasure gardens. His wife emerges with ecstatic delight to receive him looking like the goddess Lakshmi. Without a word being said, Krishna has guessed at Sudama’s need and attended to it. The grandiose setting of Krishna’s palace is executed in the angular and elaborately detailed style introduced to Mandi by the influential Pahari artist Sajnu, who was active between circa 1790 and 1830. Sajnu began working for Raja Isvari Sen of Mandi in 1808. As Isvari Sen’s leading artist, Sajnu transformed the Mandi court style into one clearly influenced by Kangra and Guler painting though in a manner that replaces naturalism and simplicity with intricate decorative details: layers of ornate architecture and profuse but formally planted vegetation receding into the background; and lines of sight continually intercepted by further finely worked details. Provenance: Mandi Royal Collection Private German Collection
36 T H E S E C O N D D U T Y O F T H E S A K H I I S T O T E A C H T H E N AY I K A Central India (Datia), circa 1770 Height: 32.5 cm Width: 23.2 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Rasraj of Matiram series. Inscribed in devanagari with a verse from the Rasraj numbered 288: “The month of Chaitra is here, the soft Malay winds are blowing, dew drops are dropping from flowers, the intoxicating moon is spreading its light everywhere, rows of bees are buzzing and it seems they are chanting a mantra and assuaging offended women. So please decorate the bed with flowers. Today you must shower Krishna with your love.”1 In a preceding verse, Matiram writes that a sakhi (confidante) has four duties towards the nayika (heroine): to adorn, to teach, to complain with sarcasm and to make humour.2 This painting illustrates the second of the sakhi’s duties towards the nayika, to teach her (shishka). The sakhi stands in a carpeted courtyard outside the small pranaya mandapa (love pavilion) instructing the nayika to strew her bed with flowers. Krishna sits in a tiny but exquisite walled garden around which bees buzz. A diminutive couple, following the example of the nayaka and nayika,
converse in their own small pavilion. It is characteristic of Datia paintings to have many small pavilions rather than one large palace building of which the pranaya mandapa is only an adjacent section. The man in the couple seated holding hands in the nayika’s courtyard has a moustache that reminds us of moustaches sported by Datia royalty. While Keshavadas with his Rasikapriya (1591) and Bihari Lal with his Sat Sai (1647 or 1662) are considered the foundational poets of ritikavya, court poetry that celebrates erotic sentiments in a classical or learned manner, the poet Matiram also stands as a beacon that commands our attention.3 He was born in 1603 and lived a long and productive life; he passed away in 1693. He was a gifted youth, writing his first poetic composition at the age of eighteen, sixty verses evocative of different flowers. Matiram came from a high status Kanyakubja Brahmin family that lived in a village called Tikampur on the Yamuna river, not far from Kanpur. His father Ratnakar Tripathi, and his brothers Chintamani and Bhushan, were also accomplished poets.4 According to Harsha V. Dehejia and Vijay Sharma in their translation of Matiram’s Rasraj, there are
four generally recognised periods in the history of Indian poetry: adikal (ancient period), bhaktikal (devotional period), ritikal (mannered or ornamented period) and adhunikkal (modern period). Of these four streams or genres of poetry, bhaktikal and ritikal are the most closely related as shringara (romantic poetry) for the Indian mind encompasses both romance and devotion.5 A factor that contributed greatly to the success and popularity of ritikal poetry was that it is written in the musical language of Brajbhasha, with soft consonants and many vowels, thus perfect for love songs and romantic poetry.6 As Dehejia and Sharma observe, “The romance that Braj poetry portrays is courtly and not pastoral, its concerns are the many nuances and situations of romantic love at the human level, a love that is earthy and not celestial, it is concerned with matters of the heart and not of the state, and by throbbing emotion and not religious dictates or moralising ethics.” 7 The Rasraj is a masterpiece of ritikal poetry. Though Matiram was patronised by several rulers including Raja Chhatrasal and Raja Bhao Singh of Bundi, as well as the emperor Jahangir, the Rasraj, which is considered his
finest work, was not commissioned by any patron but written for his own pleasure between 1633-1643. The poem garnered fame during his lifetime and within a few years commentaries were written on the Rasraj. Six paintings from this Rasraj series are illustrated in Harsha V. Dehejia and Vijay Sharma, Painted Words: Kangra Paintings of Matiram’s Rasraj, 2012, pp. 182-183. These paintings from the Datia atelier were produced in the late eighteenth century during the reign of Rao Shatrujit Singh (1762-1801). Other pages from the series are held in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.72.2.3).
Provenance: The Collection of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription. References: 1. This translation comes from Harsha V. Dehejia and Vijay Sharma, Painted Words: Kangra Paintings of Matiram’s Rasraj, 2012, p. 73, where the verse is numbered 292 rather than 288 as on the painting. 2. Ibid., p. 73, verse 289. 3. Ibid., p. 112. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid., p. 93. 6. Ibid., p. 95. 7. Ibid., pp. 95-96.
37 S E E I N G T H E B E LOV E D T H R O U G H A P I C T U R E Central India (Datia), circa 1770 Height: 32.2 cm Width: 23 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. An illustration to a Rasraj of Matiram series. Inscribed in devanagari with a verse from the Rasraj numbered 276: “O nayak (stealer of hearts)! The nayika has become infatuated with you after looking at your picture and her entire body has become restless. She has forgotten the sense of touch and smell and cannot recognise flowers and spends her time staring. She has fallen in love with you and you do not seem to care. O stealer of her heart! Why don’t you come and see how she loves you? Since she cannot see you, she is tied to your picture and sees nothing beyond it.” 1
The nayika (heroine) has not seen Krishna for some time and her yearning to see him has steadily increased. In a previous verse, her sakhi (confidante) has described Krishna so well in words, [like the poet Matiram painting an excellent picture through poetry], that the nayika feels she has seen him with her own eyes.2 Then she has a dream of Krishna coming to see her and kiss her, but sadly she wakes up from the dream that seems so true that everything else seems false.3 Now she stares at a painting of Krishna, completely infatuated with his looks. In the painting, we see the nayika seated on her bed in the garden of her small pranaya mandapa (love pavilion), staring transfixed at a portrait of Krishna in a gold frame. In a second pavilion above, we see the sakhi telling Krishna that the nayika has fallen in love with his image and encourages him to visit her to let her see him in reality.
The poem and the painting thus both play with the concepts of representation and seeing on many levels: to see the beloved in the mind through hearing him described in words; to imagine him in a dream; to see him through a picture; through reading or listening to Matiram’s poem that describes in verse the words spoken by the sakhi, the dream recounted by the nayika, and the painting in the poem; and through the actual painting that the viewer now sees, a painting that contains within the painting described by the words of the poem. These levels of reality, depiction, description and portrayal are so smoothly negotiated by both poet and painter that words and paint fuse into a greater whole that is more than the sum of its parts, akin to the integration and experience of performance arts. Indeed ritikal poetry was often sung and the situations described enacted by the performer during the songs that bring the poem alive. According to Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Datia in Bundelkhand, the eastern region of Central India, was granted as a fief to Bhagwan Rao, the son of Birsingh Deo of Orchha, in 1626. A Ragamala of the early eighteenth century may be from here, while inscribed works are known from the reign of Rao Indrajit, which combine Mughal with earlier Central Indian traditions. Portraits of Rao Shatrujit Singh (1762-1801) during whose reign the present painting was executed, are found in N. C. Mehta, Studies in Indian Painting, 1928.4
For examples of a famous Sat Sai series from Datia, with dark blue borders in a square format with white inscriptions, see Stella Kramrisch, Painted Delight: Indian Paintings from Philadelphia Collections, 1986, pp. 102 and 178, no. 95; Stanislaw Czuma, Indian Art from the George P. Bickford Collection, 1975, no. 75; and Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Gods, Thrones and Peacocks, 1965, no. 43. For a painting from a closely related, earlier Sat Sai series, dating to circa 1750, see W. G. Archer and Edwin E. Binney, 3rd, Rajput Miniatures from the collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd, 1968, p. 65, no. 50. The present Rasraj series is by comparison rare and unusual. Six paintings from the series are illustrated in Harsha V. Dehejia and Vijay Sharma, Painted Words: Kangra Paintings of Matiram’s Rasraj, 2012, pp. 182-183. These paintings from the Datia atelier were all produced in the late eighteenth century during the reign of Rao Shatrujit Singh. Other pages from the series are held in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.72.2.3).
Provenance: The Collection of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and kind reading of the inscription. References: 1. This translation comes from Harsh V. Dehejia and Vijay Sharma, Painted Words: Kangra Paintings of Matiram’s Rasraj, 2012, p. 72, where the verse is numbered 280 rather than 276 as on the painting. 2. Ibid., p. 71, verse 276. 3. Ibid., verse 278. 4. Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Gods, Throne and Peacocks, 1965, p. 121.
38 E U R O P E A N LOV E R S I N A C H A R I OT India (Udaipur), circa 1720 Height: 27.5 cm Width: 17.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper. Inscribed in devanagari with the subject of the painting in the yellow panel to the top. The text in Rajasthani Hindi is adapted from one of the Sanskrit kamashastras, perhaps the Kamasutra, in which erotic postures or positions (asanas) for love making are described. This charming painting shows the rajaratha asana, the Royal Chariot position. A European couple is seated in a princely chariot drawn by a pair of white bullocks. They make love on a hexagonal dais beneath a domed pavilion with a tiered finial that penetrates the text panel above. Great dexterity is shown by the man who steers the chariot while embracing his paramour, the reins looped nonchalantly around his right toe. Scent bottles and exotic fruits at their feet are aphrodisiac adjuncts to pleasure. From the wide-brimmed hat and full-bottomed wig worn by the man, we may identify the couple as Dutch. The lady sports a similar European periwig but with a tilak mark on her forehead, hennaed hands and feet, and a profusion of Indian jewellery, she is a fairly hybrid creature. The man also wears an abundance of Indian jewellery including necklaces and bazubands that complement her bracelets, anklets and dorsal hand ornament (hathphul). The bullocks are caparisoned in gold and painted above the hooves to add magnificence to the regal mode of transport. They march through a verdant field of exquisite blooms edged by a zigzag river with lotus blossoms. According to Rosemary Crill, the conventions for depicting eighteenth century Westerners, especially Dutchmen, are quite rigidly observed.1 As Andrew Topsfield has pointed out, the manner of depicting
a Dutchman and his dress, especially the perennial hat and heavy wig, is derived from images of the Dutch emissary Johan Josua Ketelaar, made during his visit to Mewar in 1711-1713 during the reign of Sangram Singh (1710-1734).2 In Topsfield’s article “Ketelaar’s Embassy and the Farangi Theme in the Art of Udaipur” in Oriental Art, Winter 1984-1985, vol. XXX, no. 4, pp. 350-367, he discusses two large Mewar cloth paintings of circa 1711 now at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Both paintings depict the reception of Ketelaar’s party at Udaipur: the first at a durbar held at the Amar Vilas apartments, and the second a tamasha (spectacle) of animal fights and other entertainments in the Chaugan.3 The paintings are of historical as well as art historical interest as they provide a visual record of Ketelaar’s embassy, one of the earliest European visits to the traditionalist and politically isolated Rajput court of Udaipur. According to Topsfield, this and other sporadic visits by the Dutch farangis made a lasting impression on the imagination of Udaipur artists. Versions of Dutchmen, sometimes naturalist and sometimes in fantastic conflation with other exotic themes such as Far Eastern chinoiserie, became a minor but recurrent motif in painting and the decorative arts well into the nineteenth century. The impression made by Ketelaar’s embassy was all the more enduring as few Europeans followed them to Udaipur until the British in the early nineteenth century. Thus their depiction, with the baroque attire and headgear of the early eighteenth century, remained fixed and codified for more than a century. Topsfield notes that two of the nine Dutchmen in the durbar scene and almost all the Dutchmen in the Chaugan scene are depicted in three-quarter face, while all the Indian figures appear in the usual strict profile. The artist may have solved the problem of representing farangis for whom he had no received models, by depicting them using their own pictorial conventions
as seen in the European prints in wide circulation at the time. The lovers in our painting are thus depicted in three-quarter profile: the lady gazing seductively at her lover from an angle while the man steals a coy glance at the viewer as if to acknowledge our voyeurism and admiration of his love making techniques. Such engaging, flirtatious eye contact is not possible in profile portrayals.
dimensions to our miniature and may belong to the same series despite differences of script in the text passages. The royal lover in plate 21 (shown in profile) resembles Sangram Singh. Rawson erroneously attributes these paintings to various different schools but Topsfield assigns them all to Mewar during the reign of Sangram Singh.4
A painting from the same series of erotic miniatures, depicting a “Dutchman and an Indian Woman Embracing”, is illustrated by Rosemary Crill in, “Visual Responses: Depicting Europeans in South Asia”, in Anna Jackson and Amin Jaffer (eds.), Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, 2004, p. 196, pl. 15.11. Like our hero, the Dutchman is naked but for his hat, wig and some items of Indian jewellery. As Crill observes, hats are so closely associated with farangis that they were known as topiwala (hat wearers); the Westerner keeps his hat firmly on his head even in the most intimate of moments.
Provenance: The Seward Kennedy Collection Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Andrew Topsfield and Jerry Losty for their expert advice. References: 1. Rosemary Crill, “Visual Responses: Depicting Europeans in South Asia”, in Anna Jackson and Amin Jaffer (eds.), Encounters: The Meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, 2004, p. 194. 2. Ibid. 3. Andrew Topsfield, “Ketelaar’s Embassy and the Farangi Theme in the Art of Udaipur” in Oriental Art, Winter 1984-1985, vol. XXX, no. 4, pp. 350-351, figs. 1 and 2; and pp. 353-354, figs. 3 and 4.
The fascination with European dress was combined with the prevalent association of Europeans with amorous pursuits. Comparable Udaipur erotic subjects of this kind appear in Philip Rawson, Erotic Art of India, 1977; some of them show the couples having sex in various modes of transport as here. Plate 35 is the painting illustrated by Crill, while plate 36 shows a European couple in a palanquin. The Europeans are interspersed with Indian lovers that take centre stage in plates 1, 4, 9, 21 and 32; these are all of similar
4. Ibid., p. 359 and p. 367, footnote 75.
39 R O YA L P R O C E S S I O N AT T H E C I T Y PA L A C E India (Udaipur), circa 1860 Height: 67.3 cm Width: 124.4 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. This large and impressive painting depicts Maharana Sarup Singh (reigned 1842-1861) riding in procession out of the courtyard of the City Palace at Udaipur, seated in the howdah on one of three richly caparisoned elephants, with his courtiers and guards ranked before and behind. Forming the backdrop to the grand procession of more than two hundred densely packed figures marching in formation is the magnificent white marble eastern façade of the City Palace stretching from the Zenana Mahal on the left to the Tripolia Gate on the right. The strip of intense blue above the white palace may be read simultaneously as both the sky and the azure waters of Lake Pichola, to which the palace is adjacent.
The door on the left of the palace façade decorated with a gaily painted pierced metal frame festooned with bird finials is the Toran Pol or zenana gateway. The door at the centre of the painting is the outer doorway of the City Palace, with a broad flight of grey steps leading up to it. Above is the Chini ri Chitrasali or “Chinese Picture Hall”, inaugurated by Maharana Sangram Singh in 1723. To the right of the main entrance is the Naharon ki Darikhana, the white marble terrace in front of the palace. The apartments above are the Amar Vilas durbar hall and arcaded courtyard, completed in 1703 by Maharana Amar Singh.
on the flanking elephants are seated on chairs of European design with open backs and sides, looped arms and splayed feet fastened onto the box howdahs. Attendants on foot bear royal insignia including the ceremonial parasol and the changi, a standard with a disc of black felt or ostrich feathers and a gold solar symbol to the centre. Soldiers carry a variety of swords, clubs, maces, drums, cymbals, rifles wrapped in cloth and long spears with tiered tassels. Leading the way to the Tripolia Gate are two horses, three further elephants with their mahouts each carrying an ankus (elephant goad), and handlers walking a pair of confident looking Saluki hounds, the favourite hunting dog of the maharanas and a constant feature of Mewar processional paintings.
Just before the Tripolia Gate is an elephant pen in which a solitary elephant plays, looking out forlornly at the spectacle as if wishing to join in. On the right, the troops march through the triple arches of the Tripolia Gate, built in 1711 by Sangram Singh. There is a charming clash of perspectives as the troops are seen in profile while the gate is seen from above at an angle showing the interior elevation of the gate facing the courtyard. This archaic device of sudden juxtapositions of perspective is used at the start of the parade on the left where two pillars lie seemingly fallen on the ground but are in fact upright pillars seen from the side, demarcating the avenue through which the soldiers emerge from the barracks.
In his writings on the art of Mewar, Andrew Topsfield has traced the historic development of the large format tamasha or spectacle painting and the use of architecture at Udaipur as a structural device. According to Topsfield, “The fundamental compositional method lies in the recasting of familiar palatial structures and architectural forms and spaces, as well as broader topographical and landscape views, into apt pictorial frames or settings for narrative scenes of court life.”1 The process begins in the reign of Amar Singh (1698-1710) where in contrast to the mainly small, intimate and refined paintings produced by his anonymous master artist and workshop, a few pictures are of increasingly large size and scope. A very long painting on cloth depicts for the first time the whole eastern range of the City Palace as a backdrop for the animal fights watched by Amar Singh and his courtiers. This is published in Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 133, fig. 110. The Rana and his courters are seated on the Naharon ki Darikhana terrace and the picture shows the newly completed Amar Vilas apartments on the right, but the Tripolia Gate is yet to be built by
An abundance of anecdotal detail enlivens the procession. The nimbate Sarup Singh is attended by a chowrie (flywhisk) bearer seated in the rear of his howdah while his mahout seated to the fore similarly waves a flywhisk. The two chowrie bearers 92
his son Sangram Singh and thus not in evidence. The paintings over the years document not just state events but the progressive additions to the palace complex by successive rulers. It was during the reign of Sangram Singh (1710-1734) that the tamasha was developed as a genre and the eastern range of the City Palace and courtyard, hitherto only rendered in paintings on cloth, became a firmly established setting for works on strong, thick sheets of paper in ever larger sizes.2 In the circa 1715-1718 painting of “Maharana Sangram Singh watching Jethi wrestlers in front of the palace”, we see the completed Tripolia Gate as well as the pen housing a single watchful elephant, which is to become a stock motif used to indicate the location of the stables.3 The grand manner established by Sangram Singh was to continue for more than two centuries.4 Several large paintings with the palace as frame and backdrop are illustrated in Andrew Topsfield, The City Palace Museum Udaipur: Paintings of Mewar Court Life, 1990. Topsfield illustrates on pp. 84-87, no. 30, a magnificent painting of 1851 showing “Maharana Sarup Singh playing Holi on horseback at the City Palace” by his leading painter Tara. Here we see the architectural framework laid out in a manner so close to the present painting that it must have been seen as a model by our artist. Amongst the many similarities are the ad hoc perspective for the Tripolia Gate, and the single elephant once again casting its eye on the festivities.
Provenance: Sotheby’s, Indian Miniatures: The Travel Sale – India and the Far East, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Paintings, Thursday, 17th June 1999, lot 43. References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 158-159. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid., p. 58, fig. 137. 4. Ibid., p. 159.
99 THE TITLE OF EACH PIECE India, North India 1000-1001 Height: 00 cm Width: 00 cm Depth: 00 cm
Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! ththththththth thththht hthth hth hth hhth hth hth hth References: 1. the reference notes go here and herer and also here and maybe a bit over there s well.
40 MAHAR ANA BHIM SINGH RECEIVES SIR CHARLES METC ALFE IN DURBAR India (Udaipur), dated 1927-1928 Signed Pannalal Parasuram Gaur Height: 65.5 cm Width: 46.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. Inscribed in gold devanagari to the top of the red border:
Thus it is Metcalfe seated opposite Bhim Singh under the canopy and next to him is Prince Jawan Singh.
Maharana Bhim Singh (reigned 1778-1828) receiving British officers in durbar in the courtyard of the Surya Mahal (later known as the Mor Chowk). This is published by Andrew Topsfield in Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, p. 237, fig. 217, and attributed to Ghasi. According to Topsfield, it probably records the visit of Sir Charles Metcalfe, Resident at Delhi, in November 1826 during his tour of Rajasthan after the rainy season.
Metcalfe observed that, “His Highness was exceedingly kind in his manner, and did not seem deficient in quickness and intelligence”; while of Jawan Singh he wrote, “the heirapparent is a prince in appearance and a gentleman in manners. He bears a high character and manages his affairs well”.2 These impressions stand in pleasant contrast to the earlier reports of Captain Thomas Cobbe, Political Agent at Udaipur from 1823 to 1831, who remarked that “the Government is a tissue of cheating and oppression: from the prince to the peasant, all are robbers”.3
maharana ji shri bhim singh ji Further inscribed in white devanagari to the lower right corner: kalmi chitrakar pannalal parasuram gaur puracheen tasbir su nakal kari/ san 1984 ka “By the artist Pannalal Parasuram Gaur copying an older painting/ samvat 1984/1927-1928 AD”. This painting is a close copy of a Mewar painting from circa 1826 that depicts
The Ghasi original and its later versions have been described as depicting Bhim Singh receiving Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) James Tod, the first British Political Agent and future historian of the Rajputs in his Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan. Tod resided in Udaipur from 1818, the year Bhim Singh accepted British suzerainty, until 1822. Topsfield contends that Tod had only three companions at Udaipur - the officers Waugh, Carey and Dr Duncan - whereas in this composition eight British officers are depicted, a grand retinue fit for the Resident.1
Topsfield observes that the Ghasi painting of circa 1826 was made during Cobbe’s tenure in Mewar but Cobbe himself is not in the picture as he was on leave during this time, his place being taken by Captain Sutherland, who may be the second ranking officer in the painting.4 The three leading British dignitaries wear diplomatic dress and curved chapeaux bras, a bicorne or a modified tricorne that is often folded and carried under the arm as part of ceremonial, diplomatic, or naval dress. The five officers of lesser rank are shown with different hats and in a smaller size. Behind Bhim Singh is the solar symbol of Surya, from whom the Maharanas of Mewar claim descent. Above is the Chini ri Chitrasali or “Chinese Picture Hall”, decorated with blueand-white Chinese export and Delft tiles.
had almost ceased but a partial regeneration in the first decade of the nineteenth century came by way of the vigorous sub-style from Deogarh, led by Bakhta and his individualistic son Chokha, who worked both at Udaipur, and at Deogarh for Rawat Gokul Das. Chokha’s style, while providing intermittent revitalisation, was too idiosyncratic to generate by itself a fresh synthesis among the next generation of Udaipur artists. It is Ghasi that best represents the orthodox Udaipur style of the 1820s and his influence continued into the 1830s.5 The present picture is evidence of the high esteem enjoyed by Ghasi even in the early twentieth century. The signature along the bottom edge is that of Pannalal Parasuram Gaur (1860-1935), head of the royal painting workshop under Fateh Singh (reigned 1884-1930) and his son Bhupal Singh (reigned 19301955). Traditional Udaipur painting in its final phase from circa 1910 to 1945 is dominated by Pannalal and his son Changanlal. Much of their production comprised of large durbar and processional scenes, tiger hunts in panoramic landscapes and life-sized royal portraits, executed in a style very different from that of Ghasi and influenced by European realism and photography.6 This painting is the second of two known versions by Pannalal, who painted another Ghasi copy in 1923 that now hangs in the Mor Chowk itself. A third version is in the Shambhu Niwas palace collection.7
References: 1. Andrew Topsfield, The City Palace Museum Udaipur: Paintings of Mewar Court
According to Topsfield, painting in Mewar fell into a moribund state during the half century of political and economic turmoil between the last years of Ari Singh’s reign and the establishment of British hegemony. By the 1790s painting at Udaipur
Life, 1990, p. 73. 2. Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 237-238. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid., p. 243, footnote 141. 5. Ibid., pp. 215 and 234. 6. For paintings by Pannalal in his own style, see Topsfield, 2002, pp. 296-301. 7. Topsfield, 1990, p. 73, footnote 1.
41 M A H A R A J A D A U L AT R A O S I N D H I A India (Gwalior), 1830-1840 Height: 44.7 cm Width: 35.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold on paper. This dashing portrait of Maharaja Daulat Rao Sindhia of Gwalior (reigned 1794-1827) shows the maharaja seated at his ease on a red rug, leaning against a midnight blue velvet bolster with a blue and gold cushion placed at the side like the armrest of an armchair. His right hand rests on the hilt of an upright sheathed katar (thrust-dagger), his elbow supported by his raised knee. A curved talwar sword in its scabbard lies at his feet. Daulat Rao’s features are striking and highly stylised, his large eyes framed by the concave and convex curves of his lids, brows and sockets, the pupils glinting with reflections of light that bring his eyes to life. Curls of hair that seem to extend his eyelashes project forward from the top of his abstracted sideburns. The angular ridge of his nose continues the line of his triangular red tilak mark that echoes the shape of his katar below. The upturned bristles of his moustache are separated like those of a comb. He is shown almost full-face, his head turned only slightly to the left towards a three-quarter profile. He wears a flat Maratha style turban. Daulat Rao is dressed simply in a white muslin gown over paijamas with a design of gold botehs against a dotted ground. A red and gold shawl sweeps diagonally across his chest with one end crisply pleated then fanned into a fishtail. The chief ornament is his huge pearl and emerald collar consisting of multiple strands of pearls studded with cabochon emeralds. This is precisely his preferred manner of dress as described by a British observer in 1809, “He was dressed in a plain manner but wore several strings of pearls and uncut diamonds around his neck of which he is particularly vain.”1
Daulat Rao Sindhia succeeded to the throne in 1794 at the age of fifteen upon the death of his great uncle, the formidable Mahadji Sindhia, who had built the Maratha empire in northern India and controlled the Mughal emperor in Delhi.2 Mahadji left no heir; Daulat Rao was a grandson of his elder brother Tukoji Rao Sindhia, who was killed in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. Daulat Rao was formally installed by the Peshwas (the hereditary chief ministers of the Maratha empire) on 3rd March 1794 and conferred the title of Amir-al-Umara (Head of the Amirs) by the emperor Shah CAlam II. He played a significant role in the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars, as part of the Maratha resistance against the rising hegemony of the British East India Company. A related portrait from Gwalior of circa 1865, which was formerly in the Edwin Binney, 3rd Collection and now in the San Diego Museum of Art, depicts the Maratha general Ram Rao Phalke. This is discussed by Jerry Losty in Rosemary Crill and Kapil Jariwala (eds.), The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, 2010, pp. 168-169, no. 60.
Losty describes the Phalke portrait as reduced to a stark pattern of intersecting lines and flat planes of colours, arising possibly out of similarly stark portraits as William Fraser’s posthumous portrait done by a Delhi artist in 1835-1840. This is published in Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, India Revealed: The art and adventures of James and William Fraser 1801-35, 1989, p. 55, fig. 17. Our Daulat Rao is similar to the Phalke in its striking modernity, Also from circa 1840 is a portrait of a Maratha noble in a flattened and highly ornamented Delhi style.4 Such paintings provide another strain of influence.
semi-naturalistic poses influenced by the latest trends in Delhi including the work of the Fraser artists.4 The relaxed pose of Daulat Rao in our painting is based on his depiction in these durbar scenes.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. References: 1. Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings in the Chester Beatty Library, 1995. vol. II, p. 785. On p. 786, no. 7.118, Leach illustrates a durbar of Daulat Rao Sindhia by Khairallah in which the maharaja is shown seated in the same pose as our portrait.
Despite the suave presentation and avant-garde stylisation of our painting, the pose of Daulat Rao ultimately derives from two durbar scenes of the 1820s, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. They were painted by the Delhi artist, Khairallah, who travelled to the camp of Lashkar beneath the fortress of Gwalior to capture Daulat Rao and his armed attendants in
According to Losty, Gwalior was one of the successor states arising out of the collapse of the Mughal Empire and the Maratha Confederacy. A fierce warrior race from the northern Deccan, the power of the Marathas began when their leader Shivaji defied Aurangzeb in the later seventeenth century.3 Maratha power increased with Delhi’s decline during the eighteenth century. Its powerful generals carved out principalities for themselves in central and western India: Sindhia in Gwalior, Bhonlse in Nagpur, Holkar in Indore, and Gaekwad in Baroda. When Maratha expansion was checked by their defeat at Panipat, their power was decentralised and shared by the four main dynasties and the Peshwas of Pune in a pentarchy. 101
2. Jerry Losty in Rosemary Crill and Kapil Jariwala (eds.), The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, 2010, p. 168. 3. Ibid. 4. J. P. Losty and Jagdish Mittal, Indian Paintings of the British Period in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, 2016, pp. 10-13. Losty and Mittal illustrate the Victoria and Albert Museum durbar scene on p. 12, fig. 2, in their discussion of a related Khairallah portrait of Daulat Rao in the Mittal Museum, illustrated on p. 10, cat. no. 1.
42 HANUMAN LEAPS ACROSS THE OCEAN India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.8 cm Width: 36.6 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. The Monkey King Sugriva has sent a band of monkeys led by Prince Angada to explore the southernmost tip of India. They meet the old wingless King of the Vultures, Sampati, who tells them that he saw Sita being abducted by the Demon King Ravana, who now holds her captive in the city of Lanka, on an island four hundred miles across the vast ocean. After an impassioned debate about which monkey has the strength to cross the sea, Jambavan, the King of the Bears, urges Hanuman, son of the Wind God, Vayu, to make the leap as the only one capable of accomplishing this
daunting task. Hanuman expands to an immense size and leaps from the summit of Mount Mahendra with outstretched arms and tail waving in pleasure. Crushing the mountain as he takes off, the force of his trajectory churns the waves to reveal crocodiles, serpents, turtles, huge fish and monsters lying in wait. The Ocean commands Mainaka, the underwater mountain, to rise above the waters to give Hanuman a place to rest midway but he merely taps it with his hand and leaps off again. Next he is tested by the Mother of Serpents, Surasa who extends her jaws to a hundred miles in order to swallow him. Hanuman keeps increasing his girth, forcing her mouth to expand, but suddenly reduces his body to the size of a thumb and flies safely out of her mouth unharmed. Final danger appears in the form of the vast demoness Simhaka who rises from the salty waves to eat him, ensnaring him by stepping on his shadow. Hanuman dives into her extended mouth and kills her by clawing out her entrails. Here we see her destroyed and sinking back into the depths. Hanuman arrives on Lanka and looks back on his great accomplishment, while the city towers gleam in the distance.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959). Dr Latifi, an eminent civil servant, collected Indian works of art from the 1930s to the 1950s. He amassed a substantial collection of Indian paintings from which some paintings were loaned to the Royal Academy exhibition in London entitled, The Art of India and Pakistan, 1947-1948. Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapter 1.
ADVENTURES OF HANUMAN ON LANKA THE
RAMAYANA The nine magnificent Ramayana paintings from Chamba published in this catalogue come from a group of fifteen paintings forming a continuous sequence from the fifth book of the Ramayana, the Sundara Kanda, or the “Beautiful Book”. These enchanting paintings describe Hanuman’s leap across the sea and his adventures in Lanka; his discovery of the whereabouts of the captured Sita; his encounters with the demon king Ravana and his rakshasa forces; his return by leaping across the ocean again; the defection of Vibhishana, Ravana’s brother, to Rama’s camp; the preparations for war with Ravana; and finally, the allied army of monkeys and bears crossing the sea to Lanka, via a great bridge constructed by the monkey architect, Nala.
The connected sequence of fifteen Ramayana paintings is published in our Simon Ray catalogue of 2016 with an Introduction by J. P. Losty, Adventures of Hanuman on Lanka from the Ramayana. We are grateful to Jerry Losty for writing the Introduction and for illuminating this distinctive and stylistically unusual sequence of Ramayana paintings. No other books of the Ramayana in quite this style have so far come to light, so we present below a brief summary of Losty’s findings and analysis. Our paintings cover the whole of the Sundara Kanda from the northern recension. It should be noted that the translation that we have used to tell the stories of the pictures, by Hari Prasad Shastri, The Ramayana of Valmiki, 1953-1959, follows a recension that transfers the last twenty-two chapters of the Sundara Kanda to the next book, the Yuddha Kanda, or the “Book of Battles”.1 The Ramayana paintings are full of vitality, charm, fresh invention with an abundance of imaginative details, and strong narrative drive; the stories are propelled forward with a remarkable impetus. According to Losty, despite the assurance of the artist’s hand that has created our series of paintings, his work is difficult to place in a given atelier and to date accurately, since certain early features are contradicted by others that seem
later.2 The most obvious stylistic influence is one that has been thought unique to Garhwal. The sea throughout is depicted as a pattern of spirals and swirling eddies inhabited by amusing little dragons and seahorses who poke their heads and half their bodies above the water as well as by large fish.3 Such a depiction of water and sea creatures is found in the Garhwal Sudama-Charita series dated by W. G. Archer to 1775-1790. Archer suggests that these very distinctive spiral swirls are inspired by the spiralling eddies of the Alakananda in the rains at Srinagar. These spiralling eddies are very unlike the swirling waters depicted in paintings from the later Kangra workshop, which appear more like pieces of a jigsaw being fitted together.4 Yet Losty has found that this apparently decisive clue to provenance is contradicted by other evidence. The swirling eddies with
water teeming with fish are found completely formed in a Chamba Ramayana series from 1780-1785. In the book by V. C. Ohri, The Exile in the Forest, 1983, pp. 16-17, Ohri writes that this series is a continuation of the Chamba Ramayana from circa 1760 that seems to have been discontinued after the death of Raja Umed Singh in 1764, when even the first two books had not been completed, and then taken up again about fifteen years later.5 According to Losty, such a piecemeal approach to illustrating the Ramayana was common in the Pahari region, since the resources needed for a complete illustrated manuscript or series could be beyond the budget of any individual patron.6
have much in common.7 Several artists were involved in the Aranya Kanda so that Rama and Lakshmana appear with different profiles wearing different hats, as in our sequence, and one of the artists favours the squat figures found in our paintings.8 Sitaâ€™s profile and facial features in our series are matched by representations of Sita in the Aranya Kanda who is sometimes shown as rather squat.9
In his book Ohri publishes twelve paintings from the Aranya Kanda. For Losty, these paintings from the Aranya Kanda of the Chamba Ramayana of 1780-1785 are of particular relevance to our Sundara Kanda as the figures
Noteworthy landscape features include striated pink rocks with naturalistic trees and shrubs poking up from the rocks that are found throughout the series and which differ markedly from the slabs or slanted
Architecture in our series is also very distinctive, especially the depiction of individual bricks or stones in the walls, each with its surround of mortar in staggered rows; these are similar to the bricks seen in the Garhwal Sudama-Charita series of 1775-1790.10
rocks found in later Kangra series.11 The arcs of hills dotted with small stylised trees, so characteristic of some early Garhwal paintings, are not present in our paintings; instead the ground is punctuated with small hillocks in pink and green, while large naturalistic trees with dense, tightly packed leaves punctuate the landscape.12
Raja Pradyumna was killed and his brother Parakram took refuge with Sansar Chand in Kangra. Some of the artists may have returned to Guler, or gone to Kangra with Parakram, but the evidence of our series suggests that some of them travelled beyond Kangra to Chamba.16
One of the most distinctive features that Losty has found in common between the Aranya Kanda and our Sundara Kanda is that rocks are covered with small dark monochrome bushes almost resembling holes. These small round bushes are found in several of Ohriâ€™s plates and also all over the rocks in our series. This is such a distinctive feature that a firm connection between these paintings is indicated.13
We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice and for writing the Introduction to our catalogue, Adventures of Hanuman on Lanka from the Ramayana, 2016, from which these notes are excerpted. References: 1. J. P. Losty (intro.), Adventures of Hanuman on Lanka from the Ramayana, 2016, p. 7. 2. Ibid., p. 8. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid., pp. 7-8. 6. Ibid., p. 7.
Losty concludes that our series exhibits a mixture of features found in both Chamba and Garhwal painting. Although linked to the 1780-1785 Chamba paintings of the Aranya Kanda, our series must be later as it does not quite match the refinement of the earlier series.14 Losty proposes a date of 1800-1810 from Chamba as the most suitable, which would allow for influence from Garhwal artists to add some of the features distinctive to that style to Chamba, an influence caused by the flight of artists from Garhwal after the Gurkha conquest of 1804.15
7. Ibid., pp. 7 and 9. 8. Ibid., pp. 8-9. 9. Ibid., p. 9. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid., p. 10. 13. Ibid. 14. Ibid., p. 11. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. Literature: J. P. Losty (intro,), Adventures of Hanuman on Lanka from the Ramayana, 2016. V. C. Ohri, The Exile in the Forest, 1983. Hari Prasad Shastri (trans.), The Ramayana of Valmiki, 1953-1959.
43 H A N U M A N F I G H T S T H E R A K S H A S A S S E N T B Y R AVA N A India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.9 cm Width: 36.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. Deeply angered by the female titan’s report of a monkey the size of a mountain laying waste to the gardens and uprooting the trees of the Ashoka grove, Ravanna orders eighty thousand retainers called kinkaras, whose strength in combat equals his own, to attack and seize Hanuman. Bearing weapons of every form including swords, knives, maces, spears and axes, the demons surround Hanuman and attack him from every direction. As Hanuman carries no weapons, he continues to uproot whole trees with which he decimates the demon host. He then grabs an iron bar that stands near the gate and uses this to pulverise the demons. As he fights, he loudly proclaims victory to Rama and his forces and boasts of his own prowess as a destroyer of armies in order to strike terror into the demons’ hearts, hoping his declarations will reach Ravana’s ears.
With all the kinkaras slain by him singlehandedly, Hanuman declares that many monkeys as powerful as himself will come to Lanka in their thousands and millions to exterminate all the titans, who now tremble in abject fear. Ravana responds by sending out his most powerful warriors, beginning with Jambumalin, son of Prahasta, in a chariot drawn by asses. Though the skilful Jambumalin succeeds in covering Hanuman with darts and arrows, Hanuman seizes a club from the battleground and with one mighty blow fuelled by anger, crushes Jambumalin’s chest to the extent that no part of his body remains recognisable. Ravana has no choice but to send further demons into battle. We see the ten-headed demon king in his palace at the top of the painting barking orders to his soldiers, each of his ten faces livid with anger.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 42-44.
44 HANUMAN CONTINUES TO FIGHT THE R AKSHASAS India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.8 cm Width: 36.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. The battle between Hanuman and the demons intensifies as birds flee in the sky and fish, turtles and serpents react with alarm in the stream into which the fallen trees have crashed. Ravanaâ€™s troops seem to be thinning out on the top right as each successive wave of great warriors is decimated by Hanuman.
with his feet, hands, fists and nails. He then annihilates five generals and their forces. Virupaksha, Yupaksha, Durdharsha, Praghasa and Basakarna, leaders of Ravanaâ€™s forces and masters of military strategy, are all ground to death by the peak of a mountain which Hanuman tears off. Finally, Hanuman slays the youthful warrior Aksha, but not without regret at taking the life of one so young, so brave and so promising. Amazed by his prowess, the demons do not believe Hanuman to be a monkey but a being of a higher order.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959)
Following the death of Jambumalin, Ravana sends out the seven sons of his seven ministers in thundering chariots, accompanied by a large army with elephants and horses. They aim a thousand arrows at Hanuman, all of which he evades as swiftly as the wind. He leaps on them and destroys the entire host
Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 45-47.
45 HANUMAN SETS FIRE TO LANK A WITH HIS BLAZING TA I L A N D P U T S I T O U T I N T H E S E A India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.4 cm Width: 36.6 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. Having set Hanumanâ€™s tail on fire, the demons drag him on a parade of humiliation through the city, advancing joyfully down the wide streets and proclaiming his misdeeds with conches and trumpets. Thousands of demon citizens gather to enjoy the spectacle of his punishment, which Hanuman endures for the sake of inspecting the plan of the city and its fortifications once again in daylight, having seen them only dimly at night. When the titan women inform Sita of unfolding events, she implores the God of Fire, Agni, to spare Hanuman any suffering. Though his tail flares up in an effulgent blaze, he feels no pain. His father, the Wind God Vayu, also lends a hand by blowing ice-cold breath on his tail.
Suddenly, by reducing his body to diminutive proportions, Hanuman slips from his bonds and leaps free onto the roof tops of Lanka, which he sets alight with his tail, sweeping from mansion to mansion as he advances towards Ravanaâ€™s palace. Fanned by the wind, the flames spread everywhere. As dwellings collapse, their rich ornamentation of jewels, gold and silver flows in streams like molten lava. The women and children of the city scramble to save their belongings, exiting their homes with what little they can carry away from the inferno. As the vast crowds panic, some fall from high balconies while others remain trapped within the city as it crumbles, engulfed by tongues of flame that stretch into the sky. Having burnt Lanka to the ground, Hanuman quenches his tail in the sea then anxiously proceeds to check on Sita in case he has set her on fire, but he finds her safe, protected from destruction by her own purity. He then bids her goodbye. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 53-55.
46 HANUMAN JUMPS BACK ACROSS THE OCEAN India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 36.4 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. His mission accomplished, with Sita discovered and Lanka burnt to a cinder, Hanuman, eager to see Rama and to bring his great tidings to the army of monkeys, prepares to return in glory across the sea, from the northern shore of Lanka to the southern tip of India. He ascends the great Mount Arishta, high as the clouds and covered with groves in which animals and celestial beings dwell; scattered with metallic deposits and scarred with deep ravines shrouded in mist; abounding in caves, crags, streams and waterfalls; and covered with flowers and creepers of every description. Gathering up all his
strength, Hanuman presses down hard before taking a mighty leap from the heavenly summit, flattening the mountain with the force of his propulsion, before coursing through the air like the wind. For the second time, he achieves the impossible task of crossing the ocean that he has traversed not so long before, a feat for which he will be justly celebrated. On his return journey, Hanuman is unimpeded by monsters having defeated them all, but pays joyful homage to Mount Mainaka, the friendly mountain in the depths of the sea. As he passes through the shimmering clouds in the sky, disappearing then appearing once again from behind the clouds, Hanuman is surprised by a shower of multi-coloured floral blossoms, thrown down by heavenly beings as a garland for a returning hero. Landing safely on Mount Mahendra, Hanuman is embraced by Angada and Jambavan, and given a rapturous heroâ€™s welcome by the monkey troops. Exultant from the news that he has seen Sita, they settle down to listen to Hanuman recount his adventures.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 56 and 57.
47 T H E M O N K E Y S D E VA S TAT E T H E M A D H U VA N A G R O V E A N D G O R G E T H E M S E LV E S O N F R U I T A N D H O N E Y BEFORE THEY RETURN TO R AMA India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.8 cm Width: 36.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. Leaping down from the summit of Mount Mahendra with uncontrollable excitement, flush with pride at the overwhelming success of their mission and eager to report to Rama their findings, the monkeys hurtle homeward at breakneck speed. Nearing Kishkindha, they arrive at Sugrivaâ€™s celestial grove of Madhuvana, planted with countless fruit trees and swarming with honey bees. They are given permission to partake of fruits and honey by Dadhimukha, Sugrivaâ€™s uncle who is the guardian of the grove but the feast soon descends into a drunken orgy of excess as the intoxicated monkeys begin to sing, laugh, clap, boast and fight with each other as well as the guardians of the grove, stripping the trees of fruits, flowers and leaves and laying waste to the whole of Madhuvana. Drunk with liquor and giddy with arrogance,
the celebration descends into a disrespectful plunder of the royal orchard. Even Prince Angada behaves improperly by striking his granduncle Dadhimukha, while some of the monkeys collapse in a stupor after their overindulgence. Yet when Dadhimukha flies to Mount Prasravana to complain to Sugriva, the monkey king realises at once that such an escapade would not happen if the troops had failed in their mission. Sugriva deduces that Hanuman has found Sita and therefore the monkeys deserve their feast as a reward. He tells Dadhimukha to bear with the arrogance of the victorious and sends him to fetch the monkeys. On the right, we see Hanuman bowing before Rama who presents him with a necklace in appreciation of his triumphs.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Sundara Kanda, chapters 61-64.
48 R A M A R E C E I V E S V I B H I S H A N A A N D L E TS LO O S E HIS ARROWS ON THE SEA India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.7 cm Width: 36.9 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. Appearing like a flash of lightning as he reaches the northern shore, Vibhishana is spotted by Sugriva as he stands amidst his vast monkey forces. Mistrustful of the titan’s sudden arrival and questioning his true intentions, Sugriva rushes to tell Rama, who consults his generals on whether he should accept Vibhishana into his camp. The monkey chiefs debate whether Vibhishana has been sent by Ravana as a spy, or come on his own accord to join Rama’s side. Suspicious of his motives and fearful of a sudden attack, they suggest a thorough interrogation before forming an alliance. Since he is a deserter from Ravana’s side, might he not suddenly also turn on them? It is Hanuman who offers the most measured view, reading sincerity and intelligence into Vibhishana’s open countenance and confident yet tactful manner.
he joyfully lands on the shore and is warmly greeted by the monkey chiefs who bring him before Rama. Falling at Rama’s feet, Vibhishana tells of his mistreatment by Ravana, and describes in detail the defences of Lanka. Rama asks Lakshmana to anoint him with sea water as the King of Lanka, pending Ravana’s imminent destruction. Vibhishana then provides Rama with a solution to crossing the ocean, advising him to appeal for help to Sagara, Lord of the Waters, as Sagara is Rama’s ancestor. For three nights, Rama performs austerities on the shore, offering obeisance to the ocean to ask for safe passage, but Sagara refuses to appear until Rama shoots flaming arrows at the sea, churning the waters into a mighty storm, threatening to dry them up and kill all the creatures within. Finally, Sagara rises from the waves, accompanied by an entourage of river goddesses led by Ganga and the Indus, who flank the King of the Sea in the background, bowing to Rama who still menacingly brandishes his bow. Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference:
Vibhishana has been hovering in midair during the discussion but as soon as Rama welcomes him,
The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Yuddha Kanda, chapters 16-21.
49 T H E M O N K E Y A N D B E A R A R M I E S P R E PA R E F O R WA R India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Length: 26.7 cm Width: 36 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. A military band plays as Rama and his allies hold their final council of war. As in the preceding illustration, the thousands and millions of monkeys and bears stretch into the far distance along the shore. Groups of them clustered between the receding bluffs in the background give an idea of the vastness of the assembled army. Sugriva’s palanquin is parked near the royal encampment. Sagara, Lord of the Waters, has appeared before Rama and explained that like the other elements of earth, wind, air and light, water remains true to its nature and thus he cannot solidify. However, he can still make it possible for Rama’s forces to cross over by pacifying all the monsters of the sea and rendering the sharks inactive so that they will not eat the monkeys on their journey. Sagara then points to the monkey Nala, who unknown to all is the son of the celestial architect Vishvakarma, who built the glittering city of
Lanka. His illustrious ancestry has hitherto remained hidden, as Nala has modestly never spoken of his powers, nor have his services been required until now, but Sagara informs Rama that Nala has inherited stupendous gifts from his father and is just as skilled and talented in architecture. Sagara instructs Nala to construct a causeway over the water that he promises to uphold. Rama commands the monkeys to enter the forest in their thousands to uproot trees and dig up rocks. They use their powerful hands and feet but also deploy mechanical devices and pull on chains to transport stones as big as elephants to the shore, to be assembled into a colossal bridge under Nala’s direction. Work begins by throwing the largest boulders into the sea to lay the foundations of a bridge heading straight towards Lanka, tracing a line on the waves that when seen from the sky resembles the parting in a woman’s hair.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959) Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Yuddha Kanda, chapter 22.
50 T H E M O N K E Y A N D B E A R A R M I E S M A R C H T O B AT T L E OVER THE BRIDGE TO LANK A India (Chamba), 1800-1810 Height: 26.3 cm Width: 36.5 cm
Opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver on paper within narrow blue and wide red borders. In this painting, we see only a small, tightly packed section of the infinite massed ranks of monkeys and bears that cross over the bridge of rocks to Lanka in their millions. Led by the band of musicians and trailed by Sugriva in his golden palanquin, the monkeys quiver with anticipation at the impending battle but remain disciplined as they march to their destiny with precision, order, purpose and determination. At the same time, the fact that they are embarking on a great adventure with high spirits and merriment is conveyed by the monkeys turned full face to the viewer, who register great astonishment at what they are doing and what they have achieved.
construct. On the first day fourteen leagues are built, on the second day twenty, on the third day twenty-one, on the fourth twenty-two and on the fifth, twenty-three leagues to reach Lanka on the opposite shore. Such is Nala’s skill that the bridge is sturdy and well-constructed, solidly cemented to take the weight of the troops and finished by a smooth pavement of stones. In addition to a lattice of tree trunks and branches wedged between the rocks, Rama’s arrows have been used as pins in the construction process. In the swirling waters on each side of the bridge, sea creatures gambol benevolently. The gods and celestials are so impressed with the architectural masterpiece that has materialised despite all the difficulties, that when Rama’s forces arrive on Lanka, they secretly anoint him with water from the sea and unknown to him, bless Rama with victory over his foes.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of Dr Alma Latifi, CIE, OBE (1879-1959)
Under the supervision of the architect Nala, the bridge measuring a hundred leagues or four hundred miles in length and ten leagues in width, has taken only five days to
Reference: The Ramayana of Valmiki, translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1953-1959, Yuddha Kanda, chapter 22.
51 T W O S AT Y R T R A G O PA N P H E A S A N T S India (Calcutta), circa 1820 Height: 52.5 cm Width: 75.5 cm
Watercolour and body colour on English paper watermarked, “J Whatman”. This beautiful painting shows two male Satyr Tragopans, or rather one Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan satyra) before, and during a very special performance. The name Satyr Tragopan comes from the two blue “horns” on the head, resembling the legendary satyr - half-man, half-goat - of classical mythology. There are five species of tragopan and all of them have “horns”. In this painting the horns are shown lying passively beneath the crest and look rather like blue feathers. They are not feathers, however, but long fingers of skin connected to the blue skin that can be seen on the face and throat. The bird on the right is shown in a relaxed posture, his throat skin hanging limp and shrivelled, and barely worthy of note compared with his gorgeous orange plumage. The bird on the left however is excited, and when tragopans get excited, exciting things begin to happen. Concealed behind a rock or log the bird will begin to inflate his throat skin, tail spread and wings rhythmically beating, while emitting strange clicking noises. No longer floppy and inconspicuous, the throat skin quickly spreads into a remarkable shield like a dickie shirt front, revealing a dark blue centre and vivid pink-patterned sides. Meanwhile the horns spring erect on either side of the jet black crown. It is not fully understood how such an extraordinary display came to evolve, or what visual message if any, this conveys to the female, but the effect is quite astonishing. The male bird’s piece de resistance is to spring up suddenly from his hiding place, raised to his full height and with wings dropped, to reveal himself to an unsuspecting female in all his glory!
Perhaps the artist had not seen a displaying tragopan himself, or maybe the bird on the left is only just beginning to prepare himself and has not yet raised his “horns”. A full-frontal view of a male tragopan at the peak moment of his display must qualify as one of the most bizarre and unforgettable sights in the animal kingdom. However, even without the inflatable parts, the males are stunning birds and it is important not to neglect appreciation of the subtle beauty of the plumage, spangled with constellations of white dots encircled with black against the varied background of dusky browns, subtle greys and of course the intensely rich flame-like orange. Wild displaying Satyr Tragopans are a sight rarely enjoyed by human observers. They inhabit dense bamboo thickets, oak and rhododendron forests; high in the Himalayan Mountains of northern India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. According to Katrina van Grouw, who kindly prepared the notes on tragopans for this catalogue entry, the tragopans in this picture are probably the same bird, though shown as two for the sake of artistic license and to make an arresting composition. There is little possibility that two male tragopans would sit next to each other in reality without tearing each other apart. Tragopans are extremely territorial, so a displaying male would not tolerate another male in the vicinity.
Provenance: Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866) trained as a lawyer in Copenhagen before leaving for Calcutta in 1817 to make his fortune, returning home to Engelholm Manor in 1830. An accomplished draughtsman, he collected paintings and aquatints of Indian architecture, people, flora and fauna. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her identification of the birds and kind preparation of the notes for this catalogue description.
99 THE TITLE OF EACH PIECE India, North India 1000-1001 Height: 00 cm Width: 00 cm Depth: 00 cm
Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! That means you Leng. Text not real, yes, this text is not real so ignore it ! ththththththth thththht hthth hth hth hhth hth hth hth References: 1. the reference notes go here and herer and also here and maybe a bit over there s well.
52 KALIJ PHEASANT India (Calcutta), circa 1820 Height: 51 cm Width: 68.2 cm
Watercolour and body colour on English paper. This painting shows a male Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos, race: leucomelanos), one of the more widespread but most variable pheasant species, with a distribution across the mountainous regions of northern India and Burma, to western Thailand. There are no fewer than nine recognised geographical races. The females are virtually indistinguishable - reddish brown with paler markings - having evolved their cryptic plumage to camouflage them while crouched on their nest on the jungle floor. The males of
each race, however, are all slightly different: one is similar to this but has a white crest; one has a wholly black breast; another, a black rump; while yet another is black all over. This bird, with a whitish breast and white-fringed rump feathers, belongs to the nominate race; the race on which the species description was based (which is why the specific or species name - leucomelanos, meaning black and white - is repeated twice). Kalij Pheasants are rather like a negative image of another black and white crested pheasant species, the Silver Pheasant, Lophura nycthemera. Instead of a black bird with white underparts, Silver Pheasants are white birds (give or take some fine black patterning) with black underparts, so you would not think that the two could possibly be confused. Silver Pheasants are also highly variable, however, and have many different regional forms. In the forms on the westernmost limit of their range, the black patterning is so bold as to almost obliterate the white. It gets very complicated; in fact two races that superficially look very much like Silver Pheasants have recently been shown by DNA evidence to be Kalij Pheasants.
All male pheasants are visually rather spectacular, and show off their adornments to their full in elaborate courtship displays, but Kalij Pheasants have added an audible element too. It happens quite quickly but is repeated often: they stand rigidly upright and rapidly whir their half-open wings against their body to produce a drumming sound that can be heard from quite a distance. Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man, 1871, describes it as, “not unlike the sound produced by shaking a stiff piece of cloth”.1 Their repertoire is not limited to non-vocal sounds. They have a shrill scream as well as more subtly gentle calls. The naturalist William Beebe includes an account of several days spent studying the breeding behaviour of Kalij - or “Kaleege” - Pheasants in his wonderfully evocative book Pheasant Jungles, 1927, describing the drumming of their wings accompanied by a typical low murmuring sound; their “ …vespers an invocation against the dangers of the night”. Beebe goes on, “I dimly sighted his scarlet face along the sights of my gun barrel, but would pull trigger neither for science nor dinner.”2
Provenance: Benjamin Wolff (1790-1866) trained as a lawyer in Copenhagen before leaving for Calcutta in 1817 to make his fortune, returning home to Engelholm Manor in 1830. An accomplished draughtsman, he collected paintings and aquatints of Indian architecture, people, flora and fauna.
Most significantly, the geographical range of Silver Pheasants abuts the eastern limits of the range of Kalij Pheasants, suggesting that the two species are in fact one big super-species. If this was not all confusing enough, where Kalij and Silver Pheasant populations meet, they hybridise readily, making their identification even more difficult. There is no doubt about the identity of this bird, however - though the artist has made it look rather ruffled and fluffy which does not do justice to the Kalij Pheasant’s usually glossy black iridescent plumage.
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her identification of the bird and kind preparation of the notes for this catalogue description. References: 1. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, first edition of 1871, Vol. II, p. 62. 2. William Beebe’s Pheasant Jungles was first published in 1927. For these notes, we have consulted an online edition of the facsimile of the 1932 edition, where the quote used is given on p. 55. However, it is unlikely that the page numbers will have changed between the 1927 and 1932 editions.
53 SPOT TED DOVE India (Calcutta), circa 1830 Height: 30.7 cm Width: 29.4 cm
Pencil and watercolour heightened with gum Arabic on English paper watermarked, “J Whatman”, within ruled margins. Inscribed in pencil to the lower left corner: “Cheetal Purdook or Spotted Dove”
Spotted Doves (Spilopelia chinensis) are much-loved residents of gardens, parks and urban areas, as well as rural villages throughout the Indian subcontinent; they rarely stray far from their home patch. There is actually no real difference between pigeons and doves, and the two words can be used interchangeably, though the word “dove” tends to be used for the smaller, longer-tailed species in much the same way as we use the words “parrot” and “parakeet”. Spotted Doves are related to the European Turtle Dove (now sadly very rare) that we used to see in the English countryside,
and to the non-native Eurasian Collared Dove that has colonised similar niches across the United Kingdom - along with many other similar species collectively known as “turtle doves”. Recent DNA tests have indicated that it may be less closely related than previously thought. The answer was to move it to a different genus. However, taxonomists have been unable to agree which. It is currently possible to see Spotted Doves described in modern bird books under three different scientific names. So much for a universal system!
written in the corner of the page in pencil and, with its distinctively patterned wings and neck, there is little else it can be. However, a conspicuous feature of all the species in the “turtle dove” group is their rather long, tapering, and distinctively patterned tail. This bird has a short, square-ended, black tail, more characteristic of much larger pigeon species. Pigeons, and especially doves, are usually associated with love and peace, and all things benign and gentle. It is true they mate for life and are always anxious to start the next brood. But that is where it ends. Most pigeon species are fiercely territorial and will brutally attack any outsiders on their patch, even including their own newly-fledged young. Like all pigeons, Spotted Doves make a flimsy excuse for a nest; just a few slender twigs forming a precarious platform on which their two eggs are laid. The clutch size is limited by a very special feature of pigeons - the young are fed on a highly nutritious secretion from the parents’ own crop, known as “pigeon milk” or “crop milk”, which could not be sustained if more than two chicks were to be reared. However, pigeons compensate for this by their assembly-line attitude to breeding. As soon as a brood is old enough to leave the nest it is “out with the old, in with the new”, and they start all over again. Acknowledgement:
The bird pictured here is almost certainly intended to be a Spotted Dove. Its Hindustani name cheetal purdook and its English name are
We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her identification of the bird and kind preparation of the notes for this catalogue description.
54 JUNGLE BABBLER India (Calcutta), circa 1830 Height: 30.5 cm Width: 29.2 cm
Pencil and watercolour heightened with gum Arabic on English paper within ruled margins.
but what they lack in beauty, they more than make up for in personality. They enjoy a sociable life, and are never happier than when they are gossiping together in their close-knit groups, raiding gardens for whatever tasty morsels they can find, making a communal racket in the early hours of the morning, and generally hanging out with the gang.
Inscribed in pencil to the lower left: “... of the Seven Brothers” This long-tailed bird is a Jungle Babbler (Turdoides striata), colloquially called Sathbhai meaning “Seven Brethren” but often translated as “Seven Brothers” or even “Seven Sisters”. One of the best-known, and bestloved, of all Indian birds, Jungle Babblers may be unremarkable to look at with their drab, dirty-brown plumage,
Whatever they do, Jungle Babblers do it together. It is particularly endearing to see them engaged in mutual preening, when their fiercely shabby countenance is transformed into the epitome of tenderness. Foraging, bathing, preening or roosting, they seem to have an almost magnetic attraction and a desire to keep as physically close to one another as possible. Perched birds can huddle up so closely that they form a single feathery mass. This tendency to conglomerate even has a special word - it is called “clumping”. The first bird to move closer to another does so subtly, sidling up gradually and subtly leaning towards it. As others join the “clump”, all pretence is abandoned and they just dive in! Jungle Babblers are more than just gregarious birds, however. Each community is governed by a strict hierarchy, rather like the better known mammalian communities of meerkats and mongooses, or of social insects. Only the alpha-ranking pair breeds. The other members of
the clan help out by defending the nest, loudly and vehemently, against would-be predators, and caring for the young. Babblers represent one of the largest of all bird families (the family Timaliidae) with over 300 species. Although most share one or two features in common, there is a huge variety in size, colour, bill shape, tail length and plumage type. So diverse are the birds labelled as Babblers that the Timaliidae has been referred to by taxonomists as ”a dustbin”, “a refuge for the destitute” and even “a festering mass”! In addition to their scientific and “official” English names, Jungle Babblers also have a vernacular Hindustani name: Sathbhai meaning “the Seven Brethren”, which no doubt refers to their sociable habits. It is tempting to suppose that the name derives from the birds always being seen in groups of seven. However, “sath” in this case does not mean literally “seven” but is a shortened version of the more approximate expression “panch sath” - a phrase meaning “five or seven” - comparable with our phrase “half a dozen”. If one looks closely at the bottom left corner of this painting you will see the words “of the Seven Brothers” faintly marked in pencil there. Strangely, the English translation of the bird’s colloquial name was not “Seven Brothers” but “Seven Sisters”, a gender switch that the ornithologist Hugh Whistler, writing in the early twentieth century, tentatively attributed to their loquacity. Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Katrina van Grouw for her identification of the bird and kind preparation of the notes for this catalogue description.
55 INDIAN SOLDIERS ON MANOEUVRES IN THE PUNJAB India (Punjab), dated 1855 By William Carpenter (1818-1899) Height: 36.7 cm Width: 50.3 cm
Watercolour over pencil. Signed on the lower left: W. Carpenter / Punjab 1855 On an old label attached to the backboard, written in a formal and elegant cursive hand, is a detailed list of the soldiers present at the manoeuvres: “Explanation of the Figures commencing from the left. A Pounder on elephant Mountain train Artilleryman Havildar 3rd Punjab N. I.
Sepoy in undress Jemedar of the 1st P. N. I. Soubadar of the 2nd P. N. I. Sepoy of the Scind Rifle Corps Doctor of the 1st P. N. I. Moonshee of the 4th P. N. I. Havildar of the 5th P. N. I. Shutur Sowar 4th P. N. I. 4 Suwars of the 4th P. I. Cav[a]l[r]y” The abbreviations P. N. I and P. N C. (on the note written as P. I. Cavly) stand for Punjab Native Infantry and Punjab Native Cavalry, the Indian Army regiments from which the soldiers are drawn. Against the majestic backdrop of the Punjab Hills seen in the far distance, soldiers from the various regiments conduct joint military manoeuvres on the dusty Punjab plain. On the left are two elephants carrying the barrel, wheels and carriage of a large cannon, while in the middle ground three horses divide the load of a
smaller cannon disassembled into its component parts. On the right are animals of the cavalry: a camel and two white steeds. A havildar is a rank equivalent to sergeant. It is not used in the cavalry where the equivalent is a daffadar. The badge has three chevrons like the stripes of a European sergeant. Historically, a havildar was a senior commander in charge of a fort during the time of the Mughals and the Marathas. The word havildar has a Persian origin meaning “person in charge”, or more loosely, “chief”.1 A sepoy is an Indian soldier serving under the British. In its most common application, sepoy was the term used for the lowest enlisted rank in the British Indian Army and earlier, in the army of the British East India Company, equivalent to a private in the British Army. The term sepoy is derived from the Persian word sepāhī meaning “infantry soldier” in the Mughal Empire.2 A jemedar or jemadar is the most junior rank of Indian Commissioned Officer, equivalent to a lieutenant. It would take a sepoy over ten years to rise to this rank. Promotion was based on merit. A soubadar or subardar is a rank of Indian infantry officer intermediate between jemadar and subadar-major, equivalent to a captain in the British Army and a risaldar in the Indian Cavalry. It would take a sepoy at least twenty years to reach this rank and promotion was similarly based on merit. A moonshee or munshi is a native interpreter or language instructor. In this painting the moonshee stands carrying a document while conversing with the doctor who is seated on the ground. The interpreter and the doctor are the only two figures who do not carry a gun or a sword.
A sowar or surwar (meaning the “one who rides”, from the Persian sawar) in the East India Company or Indian Army is an ordinary native cavalry man, equivalent in rank to a sepoy in the Indian infantry and a trooper in the British Cavalry. It was originally a rank during the Mughal and Maratha periods and during the British Raj was the name for a horse-soldier belonging to the cavalry troops of the native armies of British India and the feudal states. This rank has been inherited by the modern armies of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.3 Four sowars are depicted to the right of the painting, two mounted on horseback and two standing beside the horses. A shutur sowar is a camel rider, shown here astride a camel (shutur) that towers magnificently above the horses. William Carpenter (1818-1899) was the eldest son of the distinguished portrait painter Margaret Sarah Carpenter (née Geddes) and William Hookham Carpenter, who became the Keeper of the Prints and Drawings Department at the British Museum. His younger brother Percy was also a painter of note. William entered the Royal Academy Schools in London in 1835. He initially painted with oils but quickly took to watercolour.4 In early 1850 he set off for India in the footsteps of Percy and travelling overland through Egypt, arrived in Bombay in June 1850. Almost immediately, he travelled to Poona to join others escaping the fierce summer heat in the cool air of the mountains. Though William kept no diary, his large collection of dated watercolours allows his journey to be recreated. By the time he returned to Bombay in about December he had painted a school in the old Maratha Palace and views of the Shaniwar Palace. He saw the New Year in whilst visiting Salsette
Island, after he had spent Christmas Day painting Mount Mary’s Basilica at Bandra. His paintings include a view of the Mahim Causeway which had recently been built to join Salsette Island to the mainland. Carpenter travelled widely, from Sri Lanka in the south to Kashmir and Afghanistan in the north, and across western Indian to Rajasthan, Delhi and Lahore. He spent his time painting landscapes, bustling scenes of city life set amidst bazaars and picturesque monuments, village life in the surrounding countryside and portraits of local rulers and
interesting local inhabitants: tradesmen, saints, women, children and in the case of the present painting, soldiers and animals. Often adopting Indian dress and manners, he removed much of the normal social distance between himself and his sitters to capture their essence in a relaxed, informal way. According to the Victoria and Albert Museum website (the museum has major holdings of his work, much of which is published on line at vam.ac.uk): “Carpenter’s Indian pictures display a particular interest in costume, agriculture and the day-to-day
lives of the local inhabitants. His depiction of street scenes and groups of people is remarkably accurate and animated, his portraits vividly capturing the character of his sitters, and the glowing effects of sunlight on cityscapes and architectural monuments. Brilliantly executed in a range of warm colours, his watercolours evoke a gentle romanticism.” 5 He made three annual trips to Kashmir in 1853, 1854 and 1855. Carpenter painted the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1854. He travelled through the Punjab, Afghanistan
and then to Rajasthan before returning to England, perhaps in 1856, or 1857 at the latest as he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1857. An important painting he returned with was a portrait of Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, who was the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II, which he completed in February 1856. The prince died five months later, in July 1856. He and Carpenter missed the Indian Rebellion of 1857, when the prince’s brothers were killed. In 1851, Carpenter became the first professional British artist to visit the court of Mewar at Udaipur. It was
during this memorable trip that he won the confidence of Maharana Sarup Singh (reigned 1842-1861) and befriended his leading painter Tara. One of Carpenter’s most celebrated pictures is his warm and sympathetic portrait of “Tara Chund, court painter”, with his two sons. This painting of 1851, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is published in Andrew Topsfield, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2002, pp. 1262-263, fig. 237. According to Topsfield, “Tara is shown in his prime, gazing at the viewer with his sketching-board propped up on his knee: was he drawing Carpenter at the same time? We may infer that the two artists from alien traditions got on well together.” On p. 264, fig. 238, Topsfield illustrates Carpenter’s portrait of Maharana Sarup Singh with attendants, and in fig. 239, Tara’s version of Carpenter’s composition. The Carpenter is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, while the Tara is in the City Palace Museum, Udaipur. After his return to London, Carpenter was able to sell his paintings as the basis of stories to the Illustrated London News, which published his watercolours as woodcuts. Carpenter later travelled to Boston, Massachusetts and was there in 1866, but it is not known how long he spent in America. In 1881, Carpenter exhibited 275 of his paintings in a one-man show at the South Kensington Museum. The entire collection was subsequently acquired after the exhibition by the new Victoria and Albert Museum.
Provenance: James Broun-Ramsay (1812-1860), 1st Marquess of Dalhousie and Governor-General of India from 1848-1856.
Colstoun, East Lothian, Broun-Ramsay’s country house Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Jerry Losty for his expert advice. References: 1. Information on the Indian army ranks has been compiled from Empire, Faith & War: A Guide to Indian Army Ranks: A Basic Glossary to the Most Common Ranks of the Indian Army at http://www. empirefaithwar.com/tell-their-story/research-yoursoldier/helpful-guides/indian-army-ranks/; and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havildar 2. Ibid., and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sepoy 3. Ibid., and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sowar 4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_ Carpenter_(painter); and vam.ac.uk 5. http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O82335/viewof-the-bazaar-at-painting-carpenter-william; and http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O108199/shahhamadans-mosque-painting-carpenter-william//
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