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Portraits of India

Sequin | 12:30 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Nigel Wrench has been to a preview at the National Portrait Gallery and writes:

What might portraits painted hundreds of years ago in India tell us about that country now? A new show at the NPG presents us with some luscious, lavish ideas in their new show, opening tomorrow if you happen to be in London. Called The Indian Portrait 1560 - 1860, it's 300 years of images of power and patronage concentrated in one room of the gallery. We'll be talking about it all on the programme later, with the help of co-curator Kapil Jariwala and contemporary artist Shazad Dawood. His work is in the Saatchi Gallery's latest show, The Empire Strikes Back, a showcase of new Indian art.

A little taster of the NPG show with these three images, all of which I plan to feature on PM. First:

Princes of the House of Timur, mid 1500s, possibly by Mir Sayyid 'Ali and 'Abd us-Samad. Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum. Partly damaged now, added to over the years to add in descendents of the Mughal
Emperor Humayan whose party for his devout followers this depicts.

Another emperor:


Jahangir holding a globe, Mughal, attributed to Abu'l-Hasan, 1617, from a private collection. A lifesize golden portrait, rarely exhibited in public.

And finally this man:

Seth Manekchand. A wealthy merchant, with the audacity to have himself portrayed in regal mode. From Rajasthan, probably Jaipur, 1823, from the collection of Claudio Moscatelli, says the gallery's attribution.

We also talk about a portait which formalises love-making as a matter of power. Explicit? Certainly.


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