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Paintings > Mughal > Love on the Terrace
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Love on the Terrace

Love on the Terrace

Love on the Terrace

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Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Chottu

13.5" X 10.0"
Item Code:
MG25
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Viewed 11970 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Sheer beauty – the beauty of the face and that of the form, the beauty within and the beauty beyond, and the beauty of the entire ambience, defines this masterpiece of art. The painting takes the viewing eye back to the classical era of medieval miniatures, when the master artists of Kishangarh in Rajasthan arrested in the strokes of their brushes such dazzling beauty, enacted on their canvases such intense drama, and infused into eyes similar oceanic depth. As in the eighteenth century Kishangarh miniatures, so in this painting, the eyes alone require a lifetime to look into them and discover their beauty. In them hover the clouds of nectar, bloom multitudes of flowers, and grow heavens of enduring delight. Here time fails to span their width, and space finds in them all its dimensions – lengths, widths and heights. If these eyes were not the abode of gods and of all that is celestial and divine, one would wonder where the gods then live.

Whatever the drama the canvas enacts and howsoever intensely flesh reacts to it, a single word that defines the theme of this all-time classic is beauty of which eyes are the epitome. The sensuous drama that the canvas enacts and the music that flesh produces only enhance its charm and mesmerism. The painting is essentially in Kishangarh idiom of Rajasthani medieval art, and as did the Kishangarh masters, the artist of this piece has discovered in the eyes of his figures their totality – beauty and form, passions and emotions, myths and realities, sensuality and spirituality, and all colours and the character of flesh and soul. He has crystallized into these fish-like curving, dove-like perching, ice-like melting tiny forms oceans and skies, flowers' fragrance, moon's glow, night's soothing drowsy quietude, golden glow of a ripe mustard field, and the rhythm and dance of the rivulet descending a mountain peak.

In Indian tradition, even the sensual love, when crystallized into the form of Krishna, attains transcendental status of the divine love. The artist has, hence, transformed his hero – a princely figure, into the form of blue-complexioned, 'pitambara'-wearing Krishna. Kishangarh dynasty was Vaishnavite in its religious inclinations. Its princes not only ruled in the name of Krishna but also fashioned their costumes and ornaments after him. It is partially in pursuance to his own perception of love attaining transcendental heights when crystallized into the form of Krishna and partly adhering to this convention of Kishangarh rulers that the artist of this piece has visualised his hero, obviously a prince, as Lord Krishna. Whether a mortal or a timeless one, the artist perceives him only as one who discovers his ultimate delight and beauty of the world in the eyes of the loved one, in the music of flesh and in the drama that senses enact.

The scene is laid on the terrace with a subdued parapet comprising fretted screen, and a shallow but beautifully embellished pavilion behind. The entire background is simple but elegantly conceived. Beyond the parapet are dark green shrubs with yellow flowers on them, and a long row of banana plants, though only their apexes are visible. The shrubs with yellow flowers have a peacock feather-like look, an essential element of Krishna's iconography. With this element added, the transformation of the figure of the prince as Krishna has been further strengthened. A kind of celestial transparency, marble's purity and touch, moon's glow and a kind of unearthliness characterise forms and figures. The colours and forms seem to melt, like a song traversing distant meadows, sometimes into translucent moonlight and sometimes into the body of the marble lay scattered all-around.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.


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