Jaipur, Rajasthan, dated 1823
Opaque watercolours with gold and silver on paper
74 x 55 cm
It is a pleasure to present a group of fine portraits from a private London collection. The group successfully illustrates the variety and progression of image making during the 19th century, both in terms of painterly technique and technological advancement.
European fashions in painting, architecture and costume were increasingly appreciated by Indian patrons, resulting in a new synthesis of styles. This is particularly apparent in the scale of some of these works, unusually large for ‘miniatures’. They reflect the format and function of Western oil paintings, made to be framed and displayed in interiors with plastered walls and high ceilings.
Artists working independently across northern India adopted Western conventions and modes of visualisation. The three-quarter profile, atmospheric backgrounds and scale were used to impress patrons who could choose oil paintings, or photographs, from the 1850s onwards.
The striking portraits of Sahib Jan (cat. 1) and Seth Manekchand (cat. 2) were included
in ‘The Indian Portrait’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London, 2010. Both are rare and significant examples of their kind.
As a whole, the collection showcases the versatility of the Indian artist and the innovation that characterised the art of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It demonstrates changes not only in style but also in perception, as individuals explored new ways of seeing and being seen. Ultimately, the portrait widened its scope, as a medium of self-expression and a tool for the creation of new visual identities amongst the ruling classes and beyond.
If you would like to stay up to date with exhibitions and everything else here at Prahlad Bubbar, enter your email below to join our mailing list