Fruits Seller’s Shop

Fruits Seller’s Shop

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Item Code: MI44
Watercolor on Paper
Artist Navneet Parikh
10.0 inches X 13.0 inches
The painting, a twenty-first century miniature endowed with stylistic distinction of medieval Indian art as practised around the first quarter of the nineteenth century in Mughals’ art-world, especially at their provincial seats like Oudh and Murshidabad, a brilliant piece of art, portrays a fruits-seller’s shop with two ladies buying some fruits, perhaps apples, from it. The painting has been framed in a lavish elaborate border comprising floral arabesques rendered in gold. The painting has great Mughalia touch in its eagerness for details, subdued colour tones, depth perspective, figures’ anatomical balance and modeling, features’ sharpness and skin’s transparent colour, besides symmetrically arranged parts and geometrical proportions as reveal in semi-hexagonal placing of wooden fruit-cases.

The shop, structured over fluted tapering marble columns with lotus-bases on either side, arched brackets managing the corners, and a beautifully moulded and gold-painted lintel, is a brilliant piece of medieval Rajasthani architecture the best examples of which Sawai Jai Singh’s Pink City Jaipur presented some three hundred years before. In addition, the shop has extending over it a beautiful red canopy painted in gold. With its velvet-like look it extends from under the eave over the shop’s front. The shop’s floor, as usual, is raised to some height though unlike the more often pursued practice in medieval days, it does not provide seating space for buyers, perhaps in consideration of the nature of business involved in sale-and-purchase of fruits-like commodity taking hardly any time. The shop’s floor stands covered to its outer edge with fruits’ baskets. Besides the semi-hexagonally placed wooden racks storing bananas, sweet-melons, both streaked and uni-coloured, mangoes, apples, grapes, figs among others, the shop has bunches of grapes, pine-apples, pomegranates and bananas artistically suspending from its ceiling in perfect symmetry and one alternating the other.

The empty-handed lady on the shop’s right, in gold-bordered scarlet lehanga and green odhani, both made of fine silk and printed in gold, and in footwear worked with gold-thread, is obviously the mistress of the lady opposite her with the basket in her hand. She is wearing a few ornaments but their elegance and richness make them distinct from those that the other two women are wearing. Her maid is identically attired but in much humble wears, a simple cotton lehanga with simple cotton-thread buti and ordinary zari border, and in as ordinary an odhani. The number of her ornaments is almost the same but in quality and material of which they are made they are much inferior.

The costume of the shop-owning lady is richer than those of the maid and so her ornaments but both are inferior to those of the rich buyer. Her elderly age reflects in her features and overall personality. The figures of all three ladies, especially their hands, are so gesticulated as if they are engaged in some dialogue, perhaps related to bargain for price. The shopkeeper has before her a weighing scale made of metal, a weighing device in use since ages. The Mughal Emperor Jahangir had discovered in the identically designed scale the symbol of justice and hence the motif defining the standard of his rule.

This painting, seeking to document common man's life, as prevails now, as also, as prevailed two hundred years ago, or before, represents a new idiom of Indian art. In miniature format it portrays an unconventional theme for a medieval painting ? a fruit-seller's shop. With naïve simplicity but with as much clarity, it depicts the grandeur of the tradition, inherent texture of medieval society still prevailing with a changed face, and purity and flavour of life in streets or on a roadside stall. All three maidens, possessed of exceptional beauty, sharp features, gold-like glowing complexion, dreamy eyes, lustrous faces and vigorous youth, represent this medievalism.

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