Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:29 AM
Visitors to Hampi, the old capital of the Vijayanagara empire, can never miss the beautiful blend in a gentle vein of Muslim art in the architectural forms of some of the buildings composing the adjuncts of the ruined series of royal mansions in the capital. The admixture is pleasing and unobtrusive as in the queen's bath and the lotus mahal.
The proximity of the Vijayanagara empire to the Sultanates of Bijapur, Ahmednagar, Golconda and Bidar has not been without perceptible mutual influences in art. It is the Deccani idiom from Ellora that is noticed in the West Indian Jain texts from Gujarat. It is the same idiom that is noticed in the region of the Gajapati of Orissa whom Krishnadevaraya conquered abouts A.D. 1515. If the influences of the Gujarati school of text illustrations produced an effect even in distant Mewar and Malwa, the effect of Vijayanagara painting in the neighboring Bahmani kingdoms was quite natural. From the Muslim side, influences from Malwa also filtered down to the Bahmani area.
In Malwa as in the Mughal court in Delhi, Persian influences held sway. The Sultans of Malwa like Nasiruddin Khilji encouraged Persian artists in their court who produced illustrated books like the Bustan of Sadi. In these paintings there is a marked element of the Persian mode enlivened by indigenous Hindu elements as in books like Nimat Nama and Laur Chanda.
The southern style with strong Vijayanagara influences is noticed in the Schools of Ahmednagar, Golconda and Bijapur. The quarrels of these three states with the neighboring empire of Vijayanagara at least helped mutual migrations of culture and the adoption of ideals in painting.
Krishnadevaraya's conquest of Kapilesvara Gajapati and his marriage to the Orissan princess brought Kalinga, which had long before been under Eastern Chalukyan influence, again under the influence of a victorious emperor of the south, which no doubt has resulted in such pictures as compose the illustrations of the Gitagovinda from Orissa, with a little text of Jayadeva to enliven the painting, which forms the principal element of the page.
This style, reinforced by a touch of the Mughal during its decadent period when the artists at the imperial court dispersed in different directions, produced a new variety which prevailed as the Deccani version of Mughal art in the south.
Local patronage in centres like Hyderabad, Cuddapah, Kurnool, Arcot, Mysore and Tanjavur accounts for sub-schools in all these areas. Under the Maratha kings, the Tanjavur school developed an art not only of book illustration but also of painting on cloth, mounted on board, with the use of paste for producing the effect of slight modeling in relief and the arrangement of semi-precious stones and gold leaves for decorating the ornaments of figures that composed groups illustrating famous scenes from the epics and the Puranas, particularly the Ramayana and the Krishnalila, as well as portraits of the Maratha rulers and the nobility at the court. Some of the most beautiful portraits are known among the paintings of this period but have not been sufficiently made available for study.
The effect of the European mode of paintings on the Indian could already be noticed in the pictures of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and a distinct Indo-Anglian style of painting may also be discerned all over the country.
The introduction of the western style of oil painting and the teaching of it to earnest Indian students by some of the European masters themselves resulted in such brilliant painters as Raja Ravi Varma who, coming from the princely family of Travancore, with a profound knowledge of Sanskrit, a wonderful cultural background and with the mastery of the technique of the Western mode, produced at a rapid pace an amazing number of pictures illustrating every possible text in Sanskrit, revealing his brilliance in art and literature, in addition to his eminence as a portrait-painter. But in the early years of the twentieth century it was soon realized, at the call of Havell, by a young gifted painter from the Tagore family, Abanindranath that this trend in painting cut the Indian painter away from the past. He, therefore, sought to go back to the classical age and recapture the glory of the earlier artists, as at Ajanta and Bagh. Among the earliest to copy the paintings at Ajanta and Bagh are his famous pupils Nandalal Bose, A.K. Haldar, S.N. Gupta and others. This new revival brought a change in outlook for a time. But the trend in art today is running after the Impressionist, Futurist, Cubist, Surrealist and other modes of experimentation in modern art in the West which probably also takes our artists away from their moorings. The hereditary craftsman and painter still earns a precarious livelihood as a bazaar artist executing cheap pictures to satisfy the demand of pilgrims visiting holy places where the bazaars have a sprinkling of them catering to their needs, from distant jagannathapuri and Nathadvara in the north to Tirupati and Ramesvaram in the south.
Writer Name: C. Sivaramamurti