Amber and Jaipur
Amber in Rajasthan was one of the first kingdoms
to become the Vassal of Akbar but noticeably its
painting style remained conventional like that
of Malwa. However, the court portraitures were
executed in markedly Mughal style. In 1728, Sawai
Jai Singh shifted the capital from Amber to Jaipur.
He and his successors patronized many artists.
The paintings clearly showed inheritance from
the Mughal source but the bold compositions and
use of abstractions were distinctly regional.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries
numerous works of art were produced that depicted
episodes from the life of Krishna. The names of
the artists that doted the royal courts are evident
in the court records and inscriptions on paintings.
Ragamala and devotional subjects remained the
popular themes of the paintings in the 19th century
and found patronage outside Jaipur court too.
Krishna in the Company of
Gopis, Bundi, Rajasthan, circa A.D. 1700 based on
poetry of Keshavdass Rasikapriya
Painting traditions in Bikaner followed a close Mughal
tradition. Muslim artists settled here brought with
them the highly refined and delicate Mughal style. Deccani
paintings also had a marked influence on the Bikaner
paintings. During the late 18th century paintings in
Bikaner started showing conservative Rajput styles.
It embraced the flatness and abstractions of the Rajasthani
style. Though, Bikaner style was rich in documentation
it never acquired the ostentation of the later Jodhpur
The painting traditions in the region of Kota and Bundi
located in southeastern Rajasthan are collectively known
as Hadauti paintings.
One of the earliest examples of the Bundi Paintings
is the Chunar Ragamala painted in 1561. The painting
showed marked influence of the Mughal style. The development
of the Bundi School in the early 17th century is unclear
but isolated examples of creative brilliance reveal
the ongoing development of Bundi style. Wall paintings
from the reign of Rao Ratan Singh (1607-31) are significant
examples of Bundi Style.
Under Rao Chattar Sal (1631-58) and Bhao Singh (1658-81)
Bundi paintings emphasized on court scenes. Themes from
the life of nobles, lovers, and ladies were extensively
used in the paintings. Bhagavata Purana illustrations
of 1640 are other notable works of art from this genre.
Though Bundi School had close association with the
Mughal style yet it was never fundamental to the evolution
and growth of Bundi paintings.
From the second half of the 17th century three significant
paintings; one, dated 1662, of a couple watching pigeons,
second, from 1682, of a couple in a pavilion, third,
dated 1689, of lovers viewing a crescent moon show the
artistic merit of this school. These paintings employed
bold, bright colors of Rajasthani style however the
delicacy of the Mughal style was also not abandoned.
A Mughal Decree in 1624-25 led to the carving of Kota
state from the kingdom of Bundi. Kota paintings were
spontaneous and calligraphic in execution and emphasized
on double lidded eye and marked shading. It is likely
that artists traveled freely from state to state and
hence the influence of each other styles is conspicuous
in the paintings.
During the reign of Jagat Singh (1658-84) portraitures
were produced that employed vibrant colors and bold
lines. Under the reign of Arjun Singh ( 1720-23), a
style emerged where a male was depicted with a long
In the 18th century, Kota became popular for its superb
hunting scenes, Ragamalas, and portraits that often
bore high documentary value.
In the 19th century during the reign of Ram Singh II
(1827-66), the Kota paintings underwent revival. He
commissioned number of paintings depicting scenes of
worship, hunting, darbar and processions.
The Hadauti paintings are often regarded as one of
the highest quality of paintings in the Rajput style.
Kishangarh in central Rajasthan, developed a distinct
style of painting, which was a result of fusion between
the Mughal tradition and regional style. Many Mughal
painters, in the early 18th century from Delhi had settled
in the region and found patronage under ruler Raj Singh
(1706-48). One of the chief painters was Bhavani Das
who developed a style that bloomed during the reign
of Raja Savant Singh (1748-64). Raja Sawant Singh was
a devotional poet and an accomplished musician and artist.
The mystical love of Krishna and Radha was beautifully
portrayed in the paintings. The poetry of Sawant Singh
also often became the theme of the paintings. Illustrated
Shahnama and court scenes were other notable works of
art. His chief artist Nihal Chand developed a mannerlist
style that emphasized on slender curves and almond eyes
of the figures.
The Kishangarh School is best known for its Bani Thani
paintings. It is widely believed that Bani Thani, was
a mistress of Savant Singh and was herself a singer
and a poet. Bani Thani paintings were noticeable for
their exaggerated features - long necks, large almond-shaped
eyes, long fingers and the use of subdued colors.
After the demise of Savant Singh and his leading painters,
the Kishangarh School lost its glory and declined in
the course of 19th century.
Malwa (In present day Madhya Pradesh) School was one
of the most conservative Rajput Painting School in the
17th century. Rasikpriya, dated 1634, and Ramayana dated
1650 are the earliest examples from this school. Influence
of Chaurpanchasika style and use of flat planes of bright
colors are some of the main features of these works
Malwa paintings emphasized on strong colors like deep
blues, reds and browns and bold lines. Remote Mughal
influence was also evident in the paintings like that
Amarusataka (100 verses of Amaru).
Rasabeli and Bhagavata Purana are some of the other
notable illustrated works from this school.
The desert kingdom of Marwar (Jodhpur) in the 18th
century is well known for its great visual paintings.
Ragamala painted in Pali in 1623 is one of the earliest
paintings from this school.
During the 18th century portraitures of nobles on their
horses and darbar scenes became common. Artists like
Dalchand brought with them Mughal traditions that were
evident in the paintings. Under Maharaja Abhai Singh
( 1724-49) large volume of high standard work was produced.
Many of these priceless paintings are preserved in
the Jodhpur Fort Museum Collection.
Mewar is notable for the fact that it resisted the
domination of the Mughals for a considerable period
and developed a very conservative style. Chawand Ragamala
dated 1605 is one of the earliest examples of this school.
The flatness, bright colors, and several common motifs
showed marked resemblance with the Chaurapanchasika
Few notable painters of Mewar School were Nasr al Din
and Sahibdin. Sahibdin dominated Mewar School from 1620-1650.
His body of work includes Ragamala, Gita Govinda, Rasikpriya,
and Bhagavata Purana.
In the mid 17th century another important artist Manohar
was noted for his illustrated Ramayana.
The end of the 17th century and the early 18th century
saw the revival of the Mewar style. Several high quality
works of art were produced which emphasized on court
scenes, religious subjects, and portraitures. In the
first half of the 18th century ambitious studies of
royal pursuits that used continuous narration were also
The late 18th century saw the decline of the Mewar
School. However in the mid 19th century, Tara, a painter
tried to provide impetus to the Mewar School. He used
European traditions in the paintings. Mewar painting
continued as a court art till mid 20th century.
Gujarati Paintings of the 16th-17th centuries were
related to Rajasthani styles but were less intense in
color and often rougher in execution. Illustrated Jain
texts, Gita Govinda, Balagopalastuti, and Bhagavata
Purana were notable contributions of this school.