This catalogue presents the Mittal Museum's holdings of drawings from Rajasthan, which are among the finest of their kind in the world. The collection was formed with the superb eye and discriminating taste of Jagdish Mittal and his wife, Kamla. As trained artists, they were quick to recognise the immediacy and graphic inventiveness of these drawings, as well as their capacity to reveal the entire creative process. The text by Andrew Topsfield, one of the foremost authorities on Rajasthani art, shows a profound understanding of their style and aesthetic quality. Comprehensive in scope, with examples from Ajmer, Bikaner, Devgarh, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Sawar, and Kishangarh, the collection is especially rich in drawings from the Bundi-Kota region. Artists from the courts of Bundi and Kota are particularly renowned for the tremendous power and flair of their depictions of elephants and hunts, and the striking originality of their other subjects. The superb quality of the illustrations and the insightfulness of the text make this book an indispensable source for the study of Rajasthani art.
Andrew Topsfield is Keeper of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. He first visited India and Pakistan in 1968, before reading Oriental Studies at the Universities of Oxford and London. In 1978 he was appointed Assistant Keeper in the Indian Section of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Since 1984 he has worked at the Ashmolean Museum as Curator for Indian Art. He has written many books, catalogues and articles on Indian painting in the Mughal period and related subjects. His doctoral thesis on Mewar painting from the 16thto mid-20th century was later published as Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar (2002). In 2012 he received the Colonel James Tod Award at Udaipur for his publications on Rajasthani painting. His other recent books include: (Editor) The Art of Play: Board and Card Games of India (2006), Paintings from Mughal lndia (2008), and Visions of Mughal lndia: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin (2012).
Jagdish Mittal is an artist turned collector and art historian. He is the Principal Trustee of the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, to which he and his wife, Kamla, gifted their unique art collection in 1976. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1990. His research articles have been published in prestigious publications. He is author of Andhra Paintings of the Ramayana (1969); Sublime Delight Through Works of Art from the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, (hereafter JKMMIA) (2007); Bidriware and Damascene Work in the JKMMIA (2011); Deccani Scroll Paintings in the JKMMIA (2014). He is co-author with John Seyller of three Museum catalogues: Pahari Drawings in the JKMMIA (2013); Mughal Paintings, Drawings and Islamic Calligraphy in the JKMMIA (2013); and Pahari Paintings in the JKMMIA (2014). He is collaborating with him on a forthcoming Museum catalogue of Deccani Paintings and Drawings.
The Trustees of the Museum and I are most pleased to publish two catalogues in tandem. The first is this catalogue of the Museum's collection of Rajasthani drawings, and the other contains our Rajasthani paintings. We are particularly delighted to do so since there are very few publications dedicated to Indian drawings. By bringing out some of the finest examples of drawings by Rajasthani painters, we are confident that this volume will soon be considered essential to the study and enjoyment of Rajasthani art.
As mentioned in the Museum's earlier catalogue of Pahari drawings (2013), I have always had a special fondness for traditional Indian drawings, for I believe that they are the lifeblood of good painting. I feel that by developing an "eye" for good drawing, one is better equipped to assess the quality of a good painting. My conviction about the significance of good drawings took shape when I was a student of painting at Kala Bhawan, Santiniketan (West Bengal) during the years 1945-49. I know that when I look at a good drawing, irrespective of style, theme, or period, I habitually feel a special connection to the artist who produced it. I never fail to be moved by a drawing in which the artist's mind, heart, and hand have been brought into complete harmony. Only an artist blessed with this sensibility can create a good drawing.
During my student days at Kala Bhawan, I learned that drawings by traditional Indian painters had not yet attracted the attention of scholars of our pictorial art. The main reason for this, I think, was the lack of access to good drawings. Although Ananda Coomaraswamy, the pioneer of Indian art studies, had expressed the hope that his two monographs of Indian Drawings (published in 1910 and 1912) would be "welcomed as a revelation of an exquisite but hitherto almost unknown art", these publications did not have that effect, largely because brilliant examples were unavailable to him. Even during the early 1950s, when the art market was flooded with miniatures from Indian palace storehouses, the supply of drawings was meagre, for drawings traditionally remained part of the artist's stock and were not offered to the patrons of their paintings.
I saw for the first time a small group of Bundi-Kota drawings in March 1949, when one Sudhansu Kumar Ray, a young scholar of Indian handicrafts, brought to Kala Bhawan a group of forty drawings that he had acquired in the course of fieldwork in that region. He exhibited them at Kala Bhawan and was willing to sell them for very nominal prices. My art course had finished and I was to leave Santiniketan for good in a week's time. My dilemma was whether to buy one or two drawings or my train ticket. I reluctantly spent my remaining money on the train ticket, which meant that there was no money to spare for even one drawing. To leave my classmates, to worry
about my future life, and now to forgo objects that I loved -- all this kept me melancholy for a long time.
Luckily, in April 1949, I was posted in Chamba, where I was fortunate enough to collect a number of Pahari drawings from two descendants of local traditional painter families. Between 1949 and 1959, I had assembled a small group of Pahari paintings and drawings and a variety of Indian art objects, but I still had no example of either Rajasthani painting or drawing. My second exposure to Rajasthani drawings was in 1959, when Stuart Gary Welch, an avid art collector and scholar of Indian art, visited me and showed his recently acquired drawings from Bundi and Kota. When I enquired about their source, he gave me the name of Ramgopal Vijayvargiya, an eminent painter of Jaipur as well as a major dealer of Indian paintings and drawings since the early 1940s. I had known him since 1951. The exquisite quality of Gary's recent acquisitions, especially their vitality, confident bold line, and their artists' acute observation of animals, people, and other objects, moved me immensely. From that time onwards, I yearned to acquire such spirited examples and dreamt of them like a lovelorn person.
From the early 1960s, whenever Kamla and I went to Delhi, I invited Vijayvargiya to come and bring along some paintings and drawings that he could offer us. He always obliged by
showing us a large group of paintings and a few drawings. Although I could almost always buy a couple of paintings from this group, I could buy only two or three drawings, for he brought many paintings but only eight or ten drawings. This arrangement continued until early 1969. By that time he had become friendly with us and one day divulged to me that he had about four or five thousand drawings that he had found by chance in a village in the Bundi-Kota region while he was on an errand in search of paintings.
keep as many as he could for himself. It is probable too that he knew that drawings would command much lower sale prices than paintings. In any case, once I heard this story, I asked him persistently to bring more drawings than paintings. At last, he relented and told me that he would show us his entire stock if we would agree to buy fifty drawings. Excited at the prospect of seeing such a trove of Rajasthani drawings and the opportunity to select a good number for our collection, Kamla and I agreed to his condition and went to Jaipur a few days later. We sat comfortably in the room where a large stack of these Bundi-Kota drawings was lying neglected. Some were tattered, others folded because of their large size, and all were frayed and water- stained. While many were small in size, approximately 10 x 15 cm, some of the large ones measured more than 150 x 200 cm. To choose from among a group of drawings so enormous in number and so varied in subject was a daunting but exhilarating task. We settled on the best examples, both of us being most attracted to those that depicted unusual themes. There were elephant combats, royal hunts of lion, tigers, and boar, household squabbles, an owl preying on a duck, a langur in a tree, bullocks with carts, temple and festival scenes, portraits, and a whole range of puja (worship) and domestic scenes. After ten tiring but enriching hours with the works, we bought over fifty drawings at a total cost of thirty thousand rupees. This happened in March 1969. Incredibly, the drawings that I once envisioned in my dreams had become a reality for us.
Back in Hyderabad, Kamla and I immediately began to conserve our new acquisitions. While all the drawings had to be cleaned and straightened and have their water-stains removed, most also had to be re-lined on handmade paper of matching colour. It took us more than a month to restore them. These are the drawings that form the main corpus of Rajasthani drawings in the Museum.
By 1964, our small collection was already noticed by well-known scholars and collectors. Their visits to see our collection gave us confidence. We had the pleasure of meeting again Stuart Cary Welch in 1965 and on his subsequent visits. Our discussion with him about Indian art were very rewarding. In March 1966, Robert Skelton, Keeper at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Howard Hodgkin, the renowned painter and discerning collector of Indian paintings and drawings, stayed with us. Their insightful discussions with us about Indian drawings were very useful and inspiring. Their subsequent visits and their appreciation of the newly acquired drawings in our collection enhanced our understanding of good work and added to our zeal for collecting.
Some of our collection's Rajasthani drawings were displayed and published in the exhibition catalogue for the first major exhibition dedicated to Indian drawings, Indian Drawings
and Painted Sketches, 16th through 19th Centuries, organised in 1976 by the late Stuart Cary Welch at the Asia House Gallery, New York. In 1989, some drawings from our recently established Museum were displayed in an exhibition entitled Indian Drawings, 16th-19th Century from the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad, at the CMC Art Gallery, New Delhi. Several of our Rajasthani drawings were published in the slender catalogue of the exhibition.
This catalogue is the eighth publication of the Museum in a series that will showcase different categories of the Museum's objects. Bringing out these catalogues' became feasible when Dr John Seyller, an eminent scholar of Indian painting, visited me in Hyderabad eleven years ago and wholeheartedly agreed to join me as a co-author of some of the Museum's catalogues.
Several people have helped in giving this catalogue its present shape. Foremost among them was my wife, Kamla, who came with me to Jaipur in 1969, and participated in the selection of drawings from Ramgopal Vijayvargiya's collection. She was indispensable to the process of conserving them properly.
Dr Andrew Topsfield, an acclaimed scholar of Indian paintings and drawings, enthusiastically agreed to co-author the present catalogue with me. I offer my profound thanks
to him for writing truly insightful and informative entries. Together with Naozar Chenoy, the Trustee-Secretary, and the other Trustees of the Museum, I am extremely grateful to him. We all are indebted to John Seyller for his immeasurable dedication to the Museum and its mission of furthering the knowledge of Indian art. He has assiduously checked the text of this catalogue to make it consistent with our other catalogues in every detail.
I wish also to express my gratitude to those who allowed me to acquire these drawings. Apart from the late Ramgopal Vijayvargiya, others who provided me drawings are Shri Narendra Gupta of Delhi, Sir Howard Hodgkin of London, Shri Kishen Chander Agarwal of Hyderabad, the late Col. R.K. Tandan of Secunderabad, and Shri Harinarayan Ghiya of Jaipur.
I deeply appreciate the efforts of many individuals: Anna Seyller, who carried out the flawless technical formatting of the text; Shri A. Narayan Rao, who ungrudgingly typed the catalogue data of this publication, Dr John Guy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, for providing an image of a Kota drawing from the Cynthia Polsky Collection, New York, and granting permission to reproduce it; and my grandchildren T.M. Anirudh and Uma Devi, for taking beautiful photographs of the drawings. Uma Devi also kept a watchful eye at the press at all stages of printing. I am indebted to Shri Kumara Guru for the meticulous image editing; Shri
Naveen Kumar, my grandson and CEO of the Museum for overseeing the timely production of this catalogue; and Shri P. Parameshwar Raju, a sensitive graphic artist and a Trustee of the Museum, for the book design. Special thanks go to Shri P. Narendra and his team at Pragati Offset Private Ltd, Hyderabad, for giving personal attention to the printing of this book.
The Trustees of the Museum and I will be delighted if this catalogue, the first serious study of Rajasthani drawing, inspires art lovers and scholars of India's pictorial art to further the study and enjoyment of Rajasthani drawings.
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend