The painting, a contemporary work rendered in medieval style of miniature painting as practiced around the mid-eighteenth century at Kishangarh, a Rathor Rajput state and the most popular seat of one of the schools of Rajasthani miniatures, represents Raja Sawant Singh and Bani-thani modeled as Radha and Krishna. Kishangarh, situated about 80 km from Jaipur on Jaipur-Ajmer road, is known for introducing an absolutely new styles of eyes and entire iconography realized in the portrait of Bani-Thani, a model of beauty that immensely influenced subsequent female portrait in entire Rajput art.
The painting consists of the side facing visions of Radha and Krishna. Both are looking at each other. Kishangarh paintings were inspired by the beauty of a courtesan attending upon Raja Sawant Singh’s step mother. Exceptionally beautiful and pursuing an as much stylistic life, in her subsequent miniatures she has been addressed as Bani-Thani, that is, one who leads a highly fashionable life. It was for her amazing beauty that Sawant Singh, the Raja of Kishangarh from 1748 to 1764, its seventh ruler, fell in love and consequently shifted her to his personal staff. Sawant Singh was a poet writing under the pen-name of Nagiri Das. It is unanimously believed that Bani-thani was the theme of many of his lyrics. Apart, her beauty was an inexhaustible inspiration for singers and painters of Kishangarh. Raja Sawant Singh was a staunch follower of Krishna and styled himself as Krishna, and hence, whether the Kishangarh artists painted him or painted Krishna, in both cases they painted him as one, Krishna as Sawant Singh and Sawant Singh as Krishna. And, correspondingly, Radha and Bani-thani as one.
An ingenious representation the artist has painted both figures only partially, that is, the faces and necks; however, their likenesses are adequately represented. A typical feature of Kishangarh art style, the Kishangarh artists modeled the faces of all their figures, as are here the faces of Radha and Krishna, elongated and angular – a sharp pointed nose, fine semi-circular lips, curved long protruding eyes, arched eyebrows, an angular chin and thick freely flowing elegantly dressed but unbound long hair. A male figure, or female, a curling lock of side hair courses along the ears down the cheeks. The figure of Bani-tani or Radha has been beautifully bejeweled with ornaments on the head, ears and neck, all embedded with large beads of emeralds and pearls in special. The nose ring also has a tiny ruby. Her head is covered partially with a transparent odhani with intricate floral butis strewn all over the field, and the border, woven with gold and silver thread. The blue-bodied Krishna, or Raja Sawant Singh, has been portrayed as putting on a gorgeous yellow headgear, knotted backwards slanting, a typical Rathor style of turban, ornamented with laces of emeralds and pearls, and a crest attached to it. The crest replaces the peacock feather crest of Krishna’s iconography. Besides, he is wearing an earring consisting of a ruby and two large pearls. The painting has magnificent intricate floral border which is making the painting attractive.
This description is by Miss Indra Vats. She has a deep interest in Indian art and iconography and is currently working at the National Museum of India, one of the premier organizations engaged in the curation and protection of Indian heritage.
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend