King Pururava with Urvashi

King Pururava with Urvashi

by Ghasi Dayaram of Jaipur
circa 1790 CE

Gouache on paper
12.2 x 16.9 in. (31 x 43 cm.)

A folio from Jaipur Bhagwad Purana, canto eleven-chapter twenty six, depicts story of a Chandravamshi King Pururava and his wife, a celestial nymph, Urvashi.

Based on the story, Pururava was the direct descent of Bramha and was born in the line of Chandra. He had an unfortunate incidence with apsara Urvashi who was born on earth because of a curse. She marries Pururava on certain conditions but when they are not met, she returns to her palace. Lovelorn Pururava eventually follows her and on his return, he finds his heart full of regret. He then indulges himself in penance and leaves his body. Devatas from Vaikuntha or swarg receive his body in a flying cart. Like an animation, Pururava is depicted four times in the composition.

Jaipur Bhagwad was possibly commissioned by Maharaja Sawai Madho Singh I and was completed in the atelier of Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. All the folios were finished in a workshop pattern where the running narratives were composed by one master artist. Manuscript name, canto details and artist’s name are written on the margins and inscriptions are written along the depictions in between the composition in golden ink. A fascinating attempt is made towards perspective, vanishing point, shade effects and three dimensional architectural features.

Lord Krishna preaching Arjuna in the battlefield

Lord Krishna preaching Arjuna in the battlefield

by Premchandar Ramlal of Nathdwara
circa 1900 CE

Gouache on paper
12.4 x 9.4 in. (31.5 x 23.9 cm.)

Depiction of an episode from the Mahabharata battle in which Krishna motivates Arjuna to fight against the Kauravas and Guru Dronacharya.

While Krishna, who chose to be the Arjuna’s sarthi (charioteer), is indicating at battlefield by waving his hand and armoured Arjuna is paying homage with joined palms and bowed down head. Krishna then narrates the Bhagwat Gita’s karma based philosophy to Arjuna, to boost his spirits.

This imaginary portrait of Krishna and Arjuna was created by a known Nathdwara artist who amalgamated traditional and contemporary influences to shaped his own style. Though Krishna’s imagery is closer to semi-realistic counterparts, Arjuna appears to be modelled after the popular imagery of Rajput hero Maharana Pratap.

Artist Premchandar Ramlal is also credited to have painted many mythological and court scenes at the Dungarpur palace, today it is know as Purana Mahal.

Prithviraj Chauhan

Prithviraj Chauhan (1149-1192)

by Nathu Chatera of Mewar
circa 1860 CE

Gouache on paper
13 x 9.5 in. (33 x 24.1 cm.)

Back: “Shri Raja Purtiraj ro paano chatare Nathu najar kidho kimat ri 35”

Portraits of Prithviraj are imaginary, and are styled after Maharana Pratap’s portrait which was initially conceptualized by artist Chokha of Mewar and Devgarh. Prithviraj Chauhan was the last independent Hindu king who ruled over Ajmer and Delhi and is usually remembered for defeating Muhammad Ghori in the first battle of Tarain in 1192 CE and eloping with Sanjukta, daughter of King Jaichand of Kannauj.

He is styled as a brave armoured Rajput soldier, always holding a bow, quiver, a shield and a sword, and has a slightly bulky figure with large, slightly upward turned imperial moustache. These two portraits are an interesting study as the incomplete one provides glimpses to the process and techniques adopted by the painter to finish it.

Prithviraj Chauhan shooting Muhammad Ghori

Prithviraj Chauhan (1149-1192) shooting
Muhammad Ghori (1149-1206)

Attributed to Tara, Mewar court artist
circa 1860 CE

Gouache on paper
13.6 x 10.1 in. (34.5 x 25.7 cm.)

Front: “Prithviraj Chuvan, Patsa Shri Gori Sa, Chand Bhat”

Char Bans Chaubi Gaj, ungal asat parman;
Ta upar sultan hai, mat chuke Chauhan.

This couplet was narrated by the poet Chandbardai to Prithviraj Chauhan, telling him the exact position where Muhammad Ghori is seated. Based on a folklore, Prithviraj set his arrow at an angle suggested by Chandbardai and shot Ghori in his throat and before anyone could capture them, the poet and Rajput king stabbed each other.

Though there are no historical facts for this episode, it is nonetheless a popular story in Rajputana and has been recorded in many ways. Image of Prithviraj Chauhan can be cited elsewhere in this catalogue and is styled after the imaginary portrait of Maharana Pratap, which includes features of an ideal Rajput warrior. In an animated narration, Muhammad Ghori is painted twice, where in second depiction he is shown falling out of the jharokha after being shot. Artist follows the style and schematisation of famous artist Tara and his son Shivalal of Mewar.

Maharana Jai Singh of Mewar

Maharana Jai Singh (1653, r.1680-1698) of Mewar
meeting Harirayji Maharaj (1591-1716)

by Mewar court artist
circa 1860 CE

Gouache on paper
11.8 x 9.8 in. (30 x 24.9 cm.)

Front: “Shri Harirayji maharaj ke aage Rana Jesinghji bethe hai tinke pichhe
paswan khada hai haathjore hai vah chitra lidho”

This imaginary composition, done in a mixed Mewar-Nathdwara style, features Maharana Jai Singh paying homage to Goswami Harirayji of Nathdwara Haveli. These two were contemporaneous and may have met as Jai Singh’s father Maharana Raj Singh had issued land to Pushtimargis to set up the idol of Shrinathji. Since then, Maharanas of Mewar became devotees of Shrinathji and used to visit the Haveli and Goswamis frequently.

Original reference for this painting is not yet known. A colophon space has an inscription written in black ink in Devanagari script in a late Mewar dialect, saying Maharana Jai Singh is seated in front of Harirayji Maharaj (there by suggesting higher status of Harirayji than the former). There is also mention of a paswan standing behind Jai Singh and the artist, referred to as the one who ‘chitra lidho’ or made the painting, is standing with joined palms. A horizontal manuscript of Bhagwad Purana is placed in front of Harirayji.