Dr Malini Roy Introduces Indian Miniature Paintings at Saffronart

Elisabetta Marabotto shares a note on the talk by Dr. Malini Roy’s at Saffronart in London

Dr Malini Roy at Saffronart, London

Dr. Malini Roy at Saffronart, London

London: Last Wednesday, before Saffronart’s preview for its Auction of Indian Miniature Paintings and Works of Art, which will be held on 24-25 April, Dr. Malini Roy, the Visual Art Curator at the British Library, gave an overview on Indian paintings produced between the 15th and 19th century, which are also known as miniature paintings.

Dr Malini Roy and a packed house at Saffronart, London

Dr. Malini Roy speaks to a packed house at Saffronart, London

Although giving a brief overview of this topic is almost impossible, given the vast amount of material, the long span of time, and the wide geographical area it encompasses, Roy managed to examine the key sites where Indian painting flourished, their purposes and patronage.

First, 15th century Hindu and Jain manuscripts were taken into account, leading to the famous Mughal paintings which mainly developed in Agra, Delhi and Lahore. These included representations of the great Mughal conquerors, illustrations of Indian and Persian epics, and depictions of Indian flora and fauna.

Lot 1, Two Leaves from a manuscript of Firdousi's Shanama

Lot 1, Two Leaves from a manuscript of Firdousi’s Shanama. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PreWork.aspx?l=8335

After the great schools of Mughal art, Indian painting in the Deccan area was discussed. There, portraiture was one of the most popular themes which showed both Mughal and Dutch influences.

Lot 3, A Portrait of a Princess

Lot 3, A Portrait of a Princess. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PreWork.aspx?l=8337

Compared to Mughal and Deccani paintings, Rajasthani paintings are more difficult to classify because of the many courts producing art using disparate styles of which Mewar was the most prolific. However, at the beginning the Rajasthani School was influenced by 15th and 16th century Hindu and Jain paintings, but slowly moved to illustrating Indian epics, Hindi poetical works and portraying Rajput rulers.

Lot 4, An Illustration from a Poetic Album, Possibly the Sarangadharapaddhati

Lot 4, An Illustration from a Poetic Album, Possibly the Sarangadharapaddhati. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PreWork.aspx?l=8338

The paintings from the Punjab Hills, drawing elements from both Mughal and Rajasthani traditions, traditionally focus on topics such as the great Indian epics and portraiture. These paintings were often inscribed in languages that are now difficult to read.

Lot 15, Rama, Sita, and Lakshman worshiped by a Sikh Ruler, Punjab Hills

Lot 15, Rama, Sita, and Lakshman worshiped by a Sikh Ruler, Punjab Hills. Image Credit: http://www.saffronart.com/customauctions/PreWork.aspx?l=8349

Lastly, Company Paintings, which developed during the British presence in India, were mentioned. This school is renowned for the adaptation of European style and the production for European patronage and the market there. Illustrations depicting Indian trades and occupations were made as well as natural history drawings representing Indian flora and fauna. Despite the uniformity in the themes represented, the artistic styles differed from region to region.

You can view some great examples of these schools of painting on the Saffronart website and in the Saffronart gallery in London.

Here’s a recording of Dr. Malini Roy’s entire talk:

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Antiquities, Art

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