The Enigmatic Image: Curious Subjects in Indian Art from LACMA UNFRAMED by Stephen Markel, Senior Research Curator South Asian art

For many viewers, the subject of most Indian paintings is understandable even without a specialist’s knowledge of the identity and history of the figures portrayed. For example, images of a princely couple listening to music on a palace terrace can be appreciated without needing to know the historical or literary identity of the protagonists. Beyond this basic intelligibility, however, many works feature complex subject matter, symbolic nuances, and/or compositional substructures that require an in-depth explanation to understand their layers of meaning.

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Allegories

Inspired by the iconography and mythology of Western divinity and sovereignty featured in the European prints brought to India, the Mughals and other Islamic dynasties of India soon appropriated the visual attributes of the divine and the regal for their own glorification. Chief among these emulated personages were Solomon and David, kings of ancient Israel; Orpheus and the philosopher Plato, both legendary musicians and poets of ancient Greece; and Majnun, the famous Arabic poet and unconsummated paramour of his beloved Layla. The unifying thread in the stories of these influential personalities was that each was graced with the ability to tame and control animals by means of his musical ability and/or spiritual authority.

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More: http://unframed.lacma.org/2017/01/05/enigmatic-image-curious-subjects-indian-art

Razmnamah: the Persian Mahabharata by Ursula Sims-Williams, Asian and African Studies, British Library Blog

One of our most important Mughal manuscripts is Or.12076, the Razmnāmah (ʻBook of Warʼ), copied in AH 1007 (1598/99) and containing the concluding part, sections 14-18, of the Persian translation of the Sanskrit epic the Mahābhārata. It is currently on display at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, in the exhibition Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts curated by Amy S. Landau of the Walters Art Museum Baltimore where it was originally exhibited. As a result of the Library’s participation in the exhibition the whole volume has now been digitised and is available online for everyone to look at — whether they are lucky enough to be able to visit the exhibition or not!

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/razmnamah-the-persian-mahabharata.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.7d6yQFss.dpuf

Artistic visions of the Delhi Zenana by J.P. Losty Curator of Visual Arts, Emeritus – British Library Blog

Three interesting portraits on ivory of Mughal ladies of the imperial zenana were acquired by the Visual Arts section in 2012, now numbered Add.Or.5719-5721.  All three were mounted in one frame with pasted down inscriptions below relating to the subject and the artist, while attached to the back of the frame were three envelopes which once contained the miniatures and which were written further particulars.  The paintings were sold in Delhi in these envelopes in 1900 by Sultan Ahmad Khan, who styles himself the son of one painter Muhammad Fazl Khan and grandson of another painter Muhammad ‘Azim, both of whom are named as artists in the inscriptions.  The purchaser must have put them into their present gilt frame and fortunately also preserved the various inscriptions and attestations.  All three are supposed to be portraits of some of the wives of the Mughal Emperor Akbar II (r. 1806-37).  For a more correct appreciation of who they might be, we rely on that invaluable on-line resource, The Royal Ark.  None of these ladies’ names unfortunately appears among the numerous wives of Akbar II, but that does not necessarily detract from the validity of the inscriptions of artistic interest.

 

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2014/12/artistic-visions-delhi-zenana.html#sthash.XpaRep9e.dpuf

Further Delhi paintings on ivory by J.P. Losty, Curator of Visual Arts (Emeritus) – British Library Blog

Previous posts on the subject of late Mughal or Delhi miniature paintings on ivory have dealt with portraits, with which the Visual Arts collection is well endowed. Not so well represented in the earlier collection are topographical paintings on ivory, so it was especially gratifying to be able to acquire two superb examples of the genre during my time as Curator of Visual Arts.  See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/further-delhi-paintings-on-ivory.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.wIWEDnVZ.dpuf

See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2016/04/further-delhi-paintings-on-ivory.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+asian-and-african+%28Asia+and+Africa%29#sthash.wIWEDnVZ.dpuf

Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy April 20–July 26, 2015 #DeccanSultans Purchase advance tickets to avoid waiting in admission lines. Exhibitions are free with Museum admission. Gallery 199 http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2015/sultans-of-deccan-india

The Deccan plateau of south-central India was home to a succession of highly cultured Muslim kingdoms with a rich artistic heritage. Under their patronage in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, foreign influences—notably from Iran, Turkey, eastern Africa, and Europe—combined with ancient and prevailing Indian traditions to create a distinctive Indo-Islamic art and culture.

This exhibition will bring together some 165 of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections. Featuring many remarkable loans from India, the exhibition—which is the most comprehensive museum presentation on this subject to date—will explore the unmistakable character of classical Deccani art in various media: poetic lyricism in painting, lively creations in metalwork, and a distinguished tradition of textile production.

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Attributed to the Bombay painter (probably named Abdul Hamid Naqqash). Sultan ‘Ali ‘Adil Shah II Shooting an Arrow at a Tiger (detail), ca. 1660. Bijapur. Ink, opaque watercolor, gold and probably lapis lazuli pigment on paper. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Lent by Howard Hodgkin

The exhibition is made possible by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the Placido Arango Fund, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the Doris Duke Fund for Publications.