To mark International Women’s Day, the Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH), Kolkata will display a unique Rajput miniature painting of Rani Padmini (Padmavati) of Chittor.
Other collections in the VMH:
- Bharat Mata by Abanindranath Tagore
- An Indian woman dancing with an English gentleman by Gaganendranath Tagore from the Bengal school of art that celebrates womanhood.
Usually, the VMH is known for the collection of Western paintings like Daniells and Zoffanys.
Rajput School of Miniature Paintings
- Origin: Rajput painting, also called Rajasthani painting, evolved and flourished in the royal courts of Rajputana in northern India, mainly during the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Evolution of style:
- Artists trained in the tradition of the Mughal miniature were dispersed from the imperial Mughal court, and developed styles also drawing from local traditions of painting, especially those illustrating the Hindu religious epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
- Each Rajputana kingdom evolved a distinct style, but with certain common features.
- Miniatures in manuscripts or single sheets to be kept in albums were the preferred medium of Rajput painting.
- But many paintings were done on the walls of palaces, inner chambers of the forts, Havelis, etc.
- The economic prosperity of the commercial community and revival of Vaishnavism and the growth of the Bhakti Cult were the major factors that contributed greatly to the development of Rajasthani paintings.
- In the beginning, this style was greatly influenced by religious followers like Ramanuja, Meerabai, Tulsidas, Sri Chaitanya, Kabir, and Ramanand.
- Subjects of paintings:
- Portraits of the ruling family, often engaged in hunting or their daily activities, were generally popular.
- Narrative scenes from the epics of Hindu mythology.
- The colors were extracted from certain minerals, plant sources, conch shells, and were even derived by processing precious stones, gold and silver were used.
- The preparation of desired colors was a lengthy process, brushes used were very fine.
- Purposeful manipulation of space: In particular, the inclusion of fuller spaces is meant to emphasize the lack of boundaries and inseparability of characters and landscapes.
- In this way, the individuality of physical characters is almost rejected, allowing both the depicted backgrounds and human figures to be equally expressive.
- Rajput paintings were often politically charged and commented on the social values of the time. Therefore, paintings were often indicative of a ruler's legacy or their changes made to a better society.
- Comparison with Mughal Paintings:
- While, from a chronological standpoint, both of these cultures clashed with one another, Rajput paintings only superficially adopted Mughal fashion and cultural standards.
- Elements, such as precise likenesses in portraiture, utilized by popular Mughal artists are not found in Rajput works.
- Likewise, Rajput techniques are not predominantly seen in Mughal paintings.
- At the opening of the eighteenth century, therefore Rajput painting remains recognizably different in intent from traditional Mughal attitudes.
Image: Krishna and Radha, a master of the Kishangarh school
- In the late 16th Century, Rajput art schools began to develop distinctive styles, combining indigenous as well as foreign influences such as Persian, Mughal, Chinese, and European.
- The four principal schools are:
- The Mewar school
Chavand, Nathdwara, Devgarh, Udaipur and Sawar styles of painting
- The Marwar school
Kishangarh, Bikaner style of painting from Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali and Ghanerao styles
- The Hadoti school
Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar styles
- The Dhundar school
Amber, Jaipur, Shekhawati painting and Uniara styles of painting
All of Rajputana was affected by the attack of the Mughals but Mewar did not come under their control till the last.
This was the reason that Rajasthani school flourished first in Mewar (the purest form) and later on in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bundi, Kota- Kalam, Kishangarh, Bikaner and other places of Rajasthan.