The Portrait of a Young Prince

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Bewitched by his father’s kingly aura, the young prince tries to imitate the expressions and postures of the king as he holds that little sword in his left hand and right hand rests comfortably on the chair’s handle supporting his reclined posture. It is almost the end of the day, as the clock is about to strike 12 and the young prince, all dressed-up, is waiting for his father to surprise him and assure him of being the next heir to the throne. The dim yellow lights in the room illuminate the prince’s innocent face and he seems to squeeze his eyes a bit as if lost in deep thoughts.

His green and red silken outfit and the super shiny black shoes indicate his nature of being well-suited and tidy, just like his father. The zari motifs on his upper garment and the multiple gold jewels studded with priceless gemstones indicate his luxurious life, received as a gift from his ancestors. With one leg resting on a red couch and a glorious gold crown adorned on his head, the prince has already assumed himself as seated on the royal throne and the courtly people seated in front of him, waiting for his orders. The small red bindi on his forehead is an aspect of his culture.

This oil painting is stroked by Anup Gomay and his precision of skills and control over brushes are worth appreciating. The way he has painted the facial expressions are clearly expressive of his innate thoughts, keeping a subtle touch of royalty to the background, he has amazingly focused the viewer’s attention towards the protagonist.


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Item Code: OS56
Artist: Anup Gomay
Oil Painting on CanvasArtist: Anup Gomay
Dimensions 34.0 inch X 46.0 inch
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Free delivery
Fully insured
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100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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Fair trade
Reminiscent of an era now a part of history, except that some royal families still pursue old conventions and formally celebrate with rituals and courtly grandeur the ascendance of a prince as crown prince, this painting portrays a prince in regal crown, jewels and costume and with a small sword having a gold-hilt studded with precious rubies and emeralds, all suggestive of his status as the heir apparent. His distinctive crown apart, the prince is seated in the official chair of the crown prince, too tall to his height, obviously not designed for him personally but for the dynasty’s heir apparent, and for any formal occasion, as for giving a sitting to a portraitist, as here, he was required to be in his chair irrespective of whether his legs reached the ground or kept suspending in the space. In no other case a prince of his status would be portrayed in a chair odd to his size. A picture of bygone days, the eager eye, in India or abroad, yet searches the debris of past for a glimpse of this medievalism, and a visual documentation of it, such as makes this painting, sometimes provides with a window.

The artist has captured this medieval idiom with great specificity discovering the fine distinction between a prince and a crown prince by resorting to the late nineteenth century idiom of modern art, and by pursuing some models of princely portraits of the period, more particularly a few by the legendary painter of those days, Raja Ravi Varma, who not only led the art of the post-miniature era to unprecedented heights and founded a new school of Indian art but being himself from a royal family well acquainted with courtly lifestyle and some of the royal personages of his time also rendered many royal portraits – kings, queens, princes, and princesses, both, his contemporary as those of the preceding periods, even legendary like Damayanti – an album of princely life in India, with a real picture of regalia, surroundings and courtly culture.

Unlike the portrait-cult in miniature painting, particularly the Mughal portraits, that strove to reproduce with minute details courtly splendour on par with a portrayed figure, Raja Ravi Varma and other painters of his time, deviating from the miniature line, strove to reproduce their figures, a king or a commoner, inside-out revealing their essential personality, particularly the portrayed figure’s intrinsic being and sometimes his class-identity, focusing little or rather negligibly, on his surroundings except an aspect of it having some reflection on his total being. This portrait of the young prince, pursuing Raja Ravi Varma’s line, has been drawn against a broad patterned background consisting of a massive red tapestry draping the back-wall, and a little of wall devoid of light, creating a magic of contrasts, red on one side, and dark, on the other. A half column on his left carries on its top a European style marble statue of a female, and on the right, a clock made of gold placed on a projection of the wall : both, an art-piece and a rich time denoting machine, the Renaissance components of new elite identity.

As if aware of his status and the responsibilities attached to it, the prince is in a thoughtful mood. The gesture of his hands, both of which lay suspended, one on the chair’s handle, and other, on the sword, suggests that activity has been temporarily shifted from the body to mind and now mind alone is in action. In his eyes swims a deep thought, perhaps deeper to his age. Besides his crown, his figure has been represented as putting on necklaces, ear-ornaments, rings and a gold waistband, all beautifully designed with gold and precious stones – rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, pearls etc. Unique in lustre, he is wearing a green silk coat brocaded all over with gold flowers and borders on sleeve-ends and lower part. The red pajama is alike lustrous but not brocaded. Instead of Indian style ‘jutis’ – half shoes, that princes are seen wearing in medieval miniatures, the prince in the painting is wearing the European style shoes.

This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.

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Oil painting technique – India centric

Oil painting is the most interesting technique in art. Unlike other paintings or art forms, oil painting is a process in which colored pigments are painted on the canvas with a drying oil medium as a binder. This medium helps colors blend beautifully to create layers and also makes them appear rich and dense. Several varieties of oil are used in this painting such as sunflower oil, linseed oil, etc., and depending on the quality of the oil, a particular consistency of the paint is developed. With the use of an oil medium, the painting gets a natural sheen on the surface which appears extremely attractive. India is famous for its old tradition of making oil paintings. This art form was brought by Europeans in the 18th century and is now practiced by almost all well-known artists. Nirmal, a small tribal town in the state of Telangana is the center of traditional oil paintings in India where the local people practice it with dedication. Most Indian artists still use the traditional technique of oil painting.

Canvas of the required size is prepared

The artists use either a wood panel or canvas made from linen or cotton. Sometimes the canvas is stretched onto the wooden frame to form a solid base, or cardboard may be used. The canvas is coated with a layer of white paint or chalk mixed with animal glue. This mixture is then smoothed and dried to form a uniform, textured surface. The wooden panel is more expensive and heavier but its solidity is an advantage in making detailed paintings with ease.

Sketch is drawn on the canvas

Now the artist starts to draw the subject of the painting on the canvas using the actual charcoal or a charcoal pencil. Sometimes, he may sketch with thinned paint as well.

Oil paint is applied using paint brushes or palette knives

Now that the rough sketch is prepared, the artist is now ready to paint. Oil paint, a special paint that contains particles of pigments suspended in a drying oil (usually linseed oil), is again mixed with oil to make it thinner for applying it on the canvas. Proper consistency of the paint is maintained to avoid its breakage. The most important rule for the application of oil paint is “Fat over lean” in which the first layer of paint is thin and later, thicker layers are applied. This means that each additional layer of paint contains more oil. This results in getting a stable paint film. Traditionally, paint was applied using paint brushes but now the artists also use palette knives to create crisp strokes. To paint using this technique, the edge of the palette knife is used to create textured strokes that appear different from that of a paintbrush. Sometimes, oil paints are blended simply using fingers for getting the desired gradation.
Smaller oil paintings, with very fine detail, are relatively easier to paint than larger ones. The most attractive feature of these paintings is the natural shiny appearance that is obtained on the surface because of the use of oil paint. The blending of colors looks extremely realistic and this is the reason why oil paintings are loved by everyone throughout the world.
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