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Mewar Paintings - A part of Rajput period

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:06 PM
The colorful state Rajasthan has a rich inheritance in its paintings. Beautiful and bold, these paintings depict the rich historical past of the state of Rajasthan. The style and varieties of these paintings are as diverse as the state itself. From the point of view of historical traditions in Rajasthani painting the Mewar School occupies first place. Mewar School of paintings is one of the most important schools of Indian miniature paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries and it distinguished itself by creating a superlative vocabulary in miniature paintings

The works of the school are characterized by simple bright color and direct emotional appeal. The artistic heritage of Medpat, the land of Guhil rulers, was a perennial source of inspiration for ancient and other schools of art. Paintings of Mewar earned wide publicity among other styles and substyles, and paintings of the Udaipur, Nathdwara and Devgarh styles are immortal legacies of this school. The preliminary and original form of Rajasthani painting, which had emerged from a synthesis, is visible in the Mewar school. Some artists and Guhil rulers of Vallabhipur came to Mewar and applied the Ajanta traditions with tremendous success. This tradition, after having assimilated a local feature, maintained its original identity and was known as the Mewar School of painting. King Rana Kumbha was a keen student of architecture, literature, music and the other arts. That this ruler was indifferent to painting is a view that does not seem acceptable, but the history of painting in the 15th century remains in oblivion. 

Many pictorial texts painted in the Mewar style in the middle of the 17th century and in the reign of Maharana Jagat Singh (1628-52) are available. Because of the growth of the Vallabha sect in Rajasthan, the Radha-Krishna Lila was the main contribution of the Mewar style. Hence Bhagwad-Purana was the main subject of Mewar paintings. In the text of Bhagwad-Purana painted by Sahabadi (1648) fine examples of the Mewar style are available. With this style, artists used a single hair from the throat or tail of a squirrel to execute the finely detailed work of these superb paintings. The Mewar School continued through the 1700s and into the 1800s, the output being quite prolific. Although religious themes continued to be popular, more and more paintings concentrated on portraiture and the life of the ruler. 

The main theme of these paintings was the traditional text that ranges from the Ragamala, Nayika-bhada, Krishna Leela, the Ramayana and the Bhagvata Purana. The scenes from the Krishan Leela came to be known for their amorous quality. One of the first definitive sets of Ragamala paintings of 1605, and executed by painter Nasiruddin, can be still seen in the collections at Udaipur. The Mewar school is known for its strong colors and decorative designs. 

Paintings from Mewar assume a great variety for the use of a wide range of colors such as saffron, yellow, ochre, navy blue, brown, crimson etc. The backgrounds usually have stylized architecture consisting of domed pavilions and small turrets. The treatment of trees only partially naturalistic and the foregrounds are decorated with flowers and the birds. A scarf is worn over one shoulder and sometimes around the waist as well. The turban is either loosely wound or has a band tied tightly around it. Mewar painting continued to flourish, with western-style portraiture of notable figures supplementing the traditional style of hunts and courtly occasions.

Nathdwara Substyle
Nathdwara is the world famous town for it's one of the richest ‘Shri Nath Ji Temple’ in Mewar Kingdom of India. Lots of people from Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states of India come to visit the holy temple of Shrinathji at Nathdwara. At Nathdwara, the installation of Lord Shri Nathji gave rise to fresh dimensions in art. During the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, the Mewar paintings, imbibing the Brij and Mughal influences, continued to manifest its rise and fall through epic-painting, wall-painting and miniature paintings. A distinct Mewar style of painting is termed Nathdwara substyle. To avoid the oppression of Aurangzeb, the image of Shri Nathji installed at Govardhan was brought to Rajasthan and installed at Nathdwara in 1670. Along with Acharya Gopi Nathji, many artists endowed with great religious fervour came here and created many beautiful paintings of Lord Shri Nathji. Depiction of natural scenery from the 18th century to this date is a distinct feature of the Nathdwara style. The Nathdwara style continued to achieve artistic beauty and excellence. 

Nathdwara is famous for the pichwai paintings in Rajasthan. Pichhwai paintings are painted in permanent natural colors that do not lighten for years. They are put to use in printings and embroidery also. Portrayal of the artist’s love for Gods makes the Nathdwara style distinct from other forms. Pichhwai paintings are created and used as backgrounds in the Shrinathji temple and in other Krishna temples. The main theme of these paintings is Lord Shrinathji and his exploits. Pichhwai paintings have deep religious roots and they are a part of devotional expression. The main themes of the paintings are based on the numerous festivals of the Shrinathji temple. They show the figure of Shrinathji decked in different festive costumes, whether it is in the vibrant colors of Holi or the festivities of Janmashtami and the ever-famous Raas-Leela. A pichhwai painting is often a group effort, where several skillful painters work together under the supervision of a master of the art. Nowadays pichwai paintings are painted in Udaipur and Nathdwara.

Devgarh Substyle

The Mewar School has been the chief and the basic school of Rajasthani paintings, and such it has also influenced its nearby Thikanas in the term of drawing. Located near the Marwar border, Devgarh Thikana was established by Rawat Dwarkadas Chudawat in 1680 during the reign of Maharana Jaisingh (1680-1698). Despite its adherence to the Mewar painting tradition, the Devgarh painting-style displays naturally the impact of Marwar. This style has acquired distinctiveness on account of the use of thick and well-balanced lines, abundance of green and yellow colors. Devgarh paintings are preserved in the various museums and private collections, chief among which are National Museum, New Delhi, Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay, Kumar Sangram Singh Museum, Jaipur. Besides, important Devgarh materials are available in the personal collection of Rawal Nahar Singh of Devgarh. 

Among the Devgarh painters, Bagata (1769-1820) and Kanwala (1771-1810) were two distinguished artists. Kanwala II (1800-1850), Chaukha and Baij Nath (1770-1830) following in the footsteps of their above illustrious predecessors, enriched the Devgarh substyle by their valuable contributions.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend india.

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