Nearly 100 paintings from the royal courts of Rajasthan and Punjab, many of them never exhibited publicly before, and dating back to the 16th and the early 19th century will be displayed at the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art here.
The ‘Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—The Kronos Collections’ exhibit will run from June 14 through September at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met).
The nearly 100 masterful paintings, show “compelling episodes” from Hindu epic and poetic literature of the Indian subcontinent.
Most of the paintings in the collection are a gift by Steven Kossak from his family’s Kronos Collections.
Created mainly between the 16th and the early 19th century for the royal courts of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills in northern India, the collection was assembled over nearly four decades by Kossak, formerly a curator in The Met’s Department of Asian Art.
“These distinguished paintings constitute one of the premier collections of this material in private hands, and their eventual addition to The Met collection will transform the Museum’s holdings of Rajput painting,” The Met Director and CEO Thomas Campbell said.
The exhibition will be organised into three major sections—Early Rajput and Rajasthan, early Pahari (Punjab Hills), and later Pahari.
Within each room, the paintings will be shown in relation to the literary traditions of Indian Hinduism, the museum said.
“Rajput court painting was mainly intended for royal delectation, to amplify through the artistic fantasy manifest in the pictures, well-known religious, quasi-religious, and secular texts and subjects. The power and magic of the images transcends the subjects they portray,” it added.
A galaxy of stylistic expression would be demonstrated in the exhibition through compelling examples of the Early Rajput Style; the later schools of Bikaner, Bundi, Kishangarh, Kota, and Mewar; as well as many of the small courts of the Punjab Hills: Bahu, Bahsoli, Bislalpur, Chamba, Guler, Kangra, Mandi, Mankot, and Nurpur.
Painted on paper in opaque watercolor and ink, the paintings are often heightened with gold and silver.
The exhibition is organised by Navina Haidar, Curator, and Courtney Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, of The Met’s Department of Islamic Art.