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Paintings > Mughal > Maharana Sangram Singh
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Maharana Sangram Singh

Maharana Sangram Singh

Maharana Sangram Singh

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Watercolor on Paper

13.0" X 19.0"
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MI55
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Viewed 11895 times since 20th Aug, 2016
This painting measuring 37 by 54 cms, obviously a large size for a miniature opted perhaps for revealing with greater clarity mental disposition of the portrayed figures besides their physiognomy, represents Maharana Sangram Singh of Mewar. With a small retinue of four attendants the Maharana has been represented riding a horse. Nothing in the painting links the rendition to an official trip, procession, or march, a private journey to a shrine, divine or friend, or even an outing. The painting is hence just a portrait – formal in nature and equestrian in kind. Besides representing Maharana's likeness the artist has added to it the usual set of formal elements. Four attendants, the foremost carrying hookah, the last one, royal standard, and other two, flywhisks, have been added only to assert his authority and position as the monarch of the land. As in most medieval portraits, the galloping horse and the background with flowering shrubs scattered all over are stylised. Even the distant hills and trees grown over them reveal geometric symmetry. The horse seems to gallop quite speedily; the Maharana is nonetheless enjoying his hookah in full composure. Even the attendant, carrying the hookah along with, is not required to accelerate his pace to match that of the horse. Horse-shoes of gold, Mughalia yak-tail in horse's neck and other ornamental elements apart, Maharana Sangram Singh has been attributed with a greenish-blue nimbus contained in golden frame with prominent rays – all formal elements. Sangram Singh's likeness is, however, real. He has similar likeness – face, anatomy, attire… in many of his contemporary portraits. Except its size, this painting itself is based on an exactly identical miniature, rendered during his lifetime and at his court. This early painting is now in the National Museum, New Delhi.

Maharana Sangram Singh ruled Mewar from 1710 to1734, perhaps Mewar's last ruler enjoying some amount of internal security. With Aurangzeb's death in 1707 Mughal Empire began waning bringing political instability also amongst Rajput states. Just within a year of his ascendance Sangram Singh received the news of Marathas' northward incursions. After five years he was required to send a contingent to assist Malwa in keeping Marathas away. In 1720, Baji Rao assumed as the new Peshwa. Baji Rao declared northwards expansion as his foremost agenda. In 1733 Marathas captured Malwa. Interference by Marathas - Sindhia and Holkar, in internal matters of Rajput states was increasing. The head of the leading Rajput state, Sangram Singh worked for Rajput unity. He organised a meeting of all Rajput chiefs in 1734 but before it took place he passed away. Sangram Singh's portrait reveals both, abundance of Mewar in his costume, jewellery and horse's drapery, as also the shadow of uncertainty that his face reflects. Whatever the political uncertainty, Sangram Singh's was the reign known for its massive art activity. Though he did not have such refined eye, as had his father Amar Singh, both in quantity and quality production of painting under him was prolific. He gave his artists unprecedented scope for developing narrative imagination and reinvigorated the prior stagnant tradition of manuscript illustration and long collaborative series running in hundreds of folios. Some of the series, rendered under him, are simply outstanding. Ramayana, Gita Govinda, Bihari's Sat Sai, Keshava's Rasikapriya among others are some outstanding illustrated manuscripts of his period. Mullah Dupiaza, a combination of satire and morality and humour and seriousness, is simply unique.

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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