Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh of Orchha
By Raja Deen Dayal
Bundelkhand, Central India, circa 1882
26 x 20.5 cm
It is a pleasure to present this collection of recently acquired paintings and photographs. The group showcases the many facets of Indian painting, with an emphasis on portraiture from the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The nineteenth century was a particularly interesting period in the history of Indian art. It was a moment of great innovation and of transition on many levels. We see artists reinvent themselves, both in Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills, with renewed vigor, almost as if they could foresee the advent of a new mode of visualization. When photography arrived in the 1850s it was immediately absorbed into the Indian pictorial tradition; it is not surprising that the term ‘tasvir’ is interchangeable for the two.
The expression of photography as art in nineteenth century India is particularly apparent in the work of Raja Deen Dayal. I would like to thank Deborah Hutton for her informative essay on the group of portraits in this collection, placing them in context and drawing on valuable new research. I am also pleased to have discovered a significant and previously unpublished work by the artist Pemji, which demonstrates the full vitality of Rajasthani painting, in addition to a Sikh portrait and exuberant durbar scene from the Jodhpur region. Both these works are testament to the great variation and innovation found in Indian painting at the dawn of the modern age.
Shubha and Prahlad Bubbar April 2012
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