Development of Rajput Paintings in India

Development of Rajput Paintings in India

Rajput paintings originated in the royal states of Rajasthan, somewhere around the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The Mughals ruled almost all the Princely States of Rajasthan at that time and because of this most of the schools of Rajput painting in India reflect strong Mughal influence.

In 1916, the famous cyclones historian Coomaraswamy did the first remarkable scholarly work on the classification and nomenclature of Indian paintings. He concluded that the theme of the Rajput paintings is related to the Rajputana as well as the Hill state of Punjab (of that time). Thus, he divided the Rajput paintings into two parts i.e. Rajasthani (concerning the Rajputana) and Pahari (concerned with Jammu, Kangra, Garhwal, Basholi and Champa).

 Rajasthani Paintings

These paintings are miniature paintings of the finest quality, made both on paper and so large pieces of cloth. Different parts of the state stick to their own style and are thus, recognized as different schools of painting. A number of famous schools of Rajasthani painting are Mewar, Hadoti, Marwar, Kishangarh, Alwar and Dhundhar. Rajasthani paintings have clear influences on Mughal Paintings, though they are quite distinct in their own ways.

Pahari Painting

Pahari painting is the name given to the Rajput paintings, made in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. These paintings developed as well as flourished during the period of the 17th to the 19th censures. Indian pahadi paintings have been done mostly in miniature forms.
Centers of the Pahari School of Painting

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Basohli Painting

The earliest centre of painting in the Pahari region was Basohli, which was under the patronage of Raja Kripal Pal, an artist names Devidasa who executed miniatures in the forms of Rasamanjari illustrations in AD 1694. There is one more series of the Rasamanjari miniature painted in the same style and almost of the same period but appears to be in a different hand. The illustration of the two Rasamanjari series is scattered in a number of Indian and foreign museums. The Basohli style of painting is characterised by vigorous strong growing colours. The Basohli style spread to the various neighbouring states and continued till the middle of the 18th century.

Guler Painting

The last phase of the Basohli style was closely followed by the Jammu group of paintings mainly consisting of portraits of Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota ( a small place near Jammu) by Nainsukh, an artist who originally belonged to Guler but had settled at Jastora. He worked both at Jastora and at Guler. These paintings are in a new naturalistic and delicate style marking a change from the earlier traditions of appears to have inspired by the naturalistic style of the Mughal painting of the Muhammad Period.

Kangra Painting

The Guler style was followed by another style of painting termed the Kangra style, representing the third phase of the Pahari paintings in the last quarter of the 18th century. The Kangra style developed out of the Guler style. It possessed the main characteristics of the Guler style, like the delicacy of drawing and the quality of naturalism.

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The name Kangra style is given to this group of paintings for the very reason that they are identical in style to the portraits of Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra. In these paintings, the faces of women in profile have the nose almost in line with the forehead, the eyes are long and narrow and the chin is sharp.

Kulu-Mandi Painting

Along with the naturalistic Kangra style in the Pahari region, there also flourished a folk style of paintings in the Kulu-Mandi area, mainly inspired by the local tradition. The style is marked by bold drawings and the use of dark and dull colours. Though the influence of the Kangra style is observed in certain cases, the style maintains its distinct folkish character.

A large number of portraits of the Kulu and Mandi rulers and miniatures on other themes are available in this style. A miniature from the series of the Bhagavata in the collection of the National Museum was painted by Shri Bhagwan in AD 1794.

Mysore paintings

This Painting is a form of classical South Indian painting which evolved in the Mysore city of Karnataka. During that time, Mysore was under the reign of the Wodeyars and it was under their patronage that this school of painting reached its Zenith. Centres of the Mysore school of Painting exist in Mysore, Bangalore, Narasipura, Tumkur, Sravanabelagola and Nanjangud.

Tanjore Paintings

It is one of the most popular forms of classical South Indian painting. It is the native art form of Thanjavur (also known as Tanjore) city of Tamil Nadu. The dense composition, surface richness and vibrant colours of Indian Thanjavur paintings distinguish them from the other type of paintings. The Paintings are notable for their adornment in the form of semi-precious stones, pearls, glass pieces and gold.

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The rich vibrant colours, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and fine artistic work are characteristics of these paintings. They add beauty and culture to a variety of surrounding and décor. The paintings so made are mostly of Gods and Goddesses because this art of painting flourished at a time when fine-looking and striking temples were being constructed by the rulers of several dynasties.

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