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"Rajput: Sons of Kings"
2005-06-08 until 2005-09-04
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Rajput: Sons of Kings presents 74 colourful paintings and drawings, created in the 17th to 19th centuries at the Hindu Rajput courts of north-west India. Capturing the vitality and luxurious sensuality of princely life, many of the paintings were produced at the court of Mewar (Udaipur), one of the most important and prosperous of the Rajput courts.
Drawn from the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, the exhibition presents a window into a world of elaborate processions, deer hunting, elephant fights and political intrigue, centred around the maharana (the highest of the hereditary rulers of Rajasthan). Portrayed as supreme warrior, hunter and patron of art, music and dance, the maharana was accorded the status of a god and was central to temple ceremonies and court pageantry.
The paintings vary in scale, from intimate gatherings between a maharana and his most trusted minister to formal darbar scenes attended by local and foreign dignitaries. Although this world no longer exists, the majestic aura of fairytale palaces and scenic lakes survives in these images.
The characters of the court and the landscape of Rajasthan are recorded in an informal and engaging style, combining the Rajasthani artists' brilliant colour and dynamic line with a Mughal-inspired rendering of the minutiae of life.
These dazzling works, filled with lively narrative, are grouped around several themes. One is portraiture, the painterís skill lavished on exquisite detail in the costume, jewellery and weaponry of the Rajput warrior class. Other themes include the cloistered lives of Rajput women, religious worship, romance, politics, and the divinity of the maharana.