Wednesday, 12 December 2012

V&A's Indian Court Painting

 An Introduction to Indian Court Painting by Andrew Topsfield.
ISBN: 0112903835

This book provides a good introduction into Indian Court painting, mostly during the Mughul period. With 28 colour images, the book covers the evolution of iconogrphy and techniques. The author provides a good explanation of the social and cultural pressures resulting in the changes in the painters art form, such as the influence of various Muslim rulers and the introduction of Western styles. The images pictured in this book range from the 15th century to the 18th. Due to humidity and other destructive forces, very few painted works are available prior to the 17th century. The author does a good job at capturing the compelling nature of these miniatures. The book is divided into sections, the mughul school, painting in the Deccan and Rajput painting in Rajasthan to name a few. Each section contains some good background information on the region and major political influences on the art world. The author also provides a good list of further reading on this subject. All in all, a good starting point for someone viewing a Mughul painting exhibition or starting their research in this area.

From an SCA perspective, many of the images contained in this book are post 1660. The handful of images that are available are full of intricate detail. It is just unfortunately that this book is B4 size so many of the images are too small to see the full detail properly. Andrew has selected some wonderful representations from the V&A catelogue and displays his expertise with a well written background on the socio-political impacts on the art form. He provides a good basis for additional research and assists the reader by providing a solid "further reading" section.


My favorite image from this book. pg 10. The chaste monk avoids the lures of women. From the manuscript of the Uttaradhyayana Sutra, Cambay, Gujarat. c. 1450. I love the colour and detail of the womens outfits as well as the sense of movement and grace the artist has managed to give them.

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