Balaji Janardhan alias Nana Fadnavis (1741-1800)
Size: 35 x 25 in (88.9 x 63.5 cm)
Date of printing: 1884
Born as Balaji Janardan Bhanu, he was an influential statesman of the Maratha Empire during the Peshwa administration in Pune. He served as subordinate Prime Minister to the Chhatrapati (Emperor). He was the main minister who held key portfolios of Administration and Finance or Phadnavis (Fadnavis).
First appointed and then later made hereditary he became, under Bhat family, the de facto ruler of the Empire, the Chhatrapati’s becoming the nominal ruler only. He demonstrated such political skill at court that the European chroniclers at the time called him “the Maratha Machiavelli”.
For this chromolithograph, the draughtsman-lithographer Joshi extracted the subject from a painting made in Pune in 1792 by James Wales. This English artist had come at the request of Sir Charles Malet, the representative of the British crown to the Maratha court, to create portraits of imperial dignitaries. On his canvas, Fadnavis appears to the right of his master,
Shrimant Sawai Madhav Rao II, 7th Peshwa of the Bhat dynasty.