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Volume 49 Number 4, June 1998

Volume 49 Number 4

Mughal Master Painters

From the General Editor’s Desk

Kesu Das: The Impact of Western Art on Mughal Painting
Amina Okada

Farrukh Beg: Studies of Adorable Youths and Venerable Saints
Asok Kumar Das

Bishandas: “Unequalled in his Age in Taking Likenesses”
Asok Kumar Das

Govardhan: “Servant of Jahangir”
Milo C. Beach

The Nyatapola Temple of Bhaktapur: A Mark of Nepalese Temple Design
Raimund O.A. Becker-Ritterspach

The Afsarwali Masjid and Afsarwala Gumbad at Nizamuddin, Delhi
Subhash Parihar

Newsletters

Book Reviews

From the General Editor's Desk [Editorial]
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 6-7

Reviewing the passing of 1997, the year marking 50 years of Indian independence, the general editor notes that there was little effort, either on the part of the government in Delhi or the private sector, to hold innovative cultural programmes involving the entire country and thus contributing to "national integration". Two praiseworthy efforts he mentions are an exhibition reviewing the history of contemporary art since independence and a series of documentary films on the artistic heritage of India, produced by Marg.

Kesu Das: The Impact of Western Art on Mughal Painting
Okada, Amina
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 8-19 [Also in Mughal Masters: Further Studies edited by Asok Kumar Das; Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-40-8, pp. 84-95]

Among the great painters in the workshop of the Emperor Akbar, Kesu Das is ranked 5th on the list of the 17 best painters drawn up by the historian Abu'l Fazl. He is also one of the few Mughal artists whose features are known to us, and at two different periods of his life. Apart from self-portraits, Kesu Das's stylistic features can be discerned in his illustrations done for imperial manuscripts. His art was influenced by European prints, especially Flemish and German, circulating at the Mughal court through Jesuit missionaries. As a result, a technical mastery which revealed a knowledge of the effects of perspective and the introduction of architecture as a component of background are characteristic traits of Kesu Das's compositions.

Farrukh Beg: Studies of Adorable Youths and Venerable Saints
Das, Asok Kumar
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 20-35 [Also in Mughal Masters: Further Studies edited by Asok Kumar Das; Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-40-8, pp. 96-111]

Two specific types of images seem to have held particular fascination for Farrukh Beg. He was not alone in drawing pictures of young men, teachers and pupils, old devotees and saints, but his pictures on these subjects are far more carefully painted and visually attractive than the rest. The Persian predilection for "adorable youths" from the later part of the 16th century through the works of Farrukh Beg, Aqa Riza, and others has definite Sufistic bearing. Sensitively drawn portraits of venerable saints wearing serene, other-worldly expressions, are also a vital subject in this painter's oeuvre. The Emperor Jahangir's marked preference for this master is pointed out.

Bishandas: "Unequalled in his Age in Taking Likenesses"
Das, Asok Kumar
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 36-57 [Also in Mughal Masters: Further Studies edited by Asok Kumar Das; Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-40-8, pp. 112-133]

Gifted with a skill for capturing expression and mood in superbly competent studies, Bishandas was considered by Jahangir "unequalled in his age in taking likenessess". Right from his earliest compositions, the artist's subjects became individuals with distinct personalities rather than simply members of a faceless crowd. As Bishandas was the first painter officially sent to the Persian court (Jahangir appointed him to the court of Shah 'Abbas in 1613) and his presence there generated a good number of paintings from Persian as well as Indian painters over a long period of time, he became a subject of detailed enquiry by renowned historians of Mughal and Persian art.

Govardhan: "Servant of Jahangir"
Beach, Milo C.
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 58-69 [Also in Mughal Masters: Further Studies edited by Asok Kumar Das; Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998; ISBN: 81-85026-40-8, pp. 134-145]

Govardhan was a major artist in Jahangir's taswirkhana contributing several portraits, court scenes, and pictures of holy men in an inimitable style. The author has closely followed the development of his style from the time he started to paint during the last few years of Akbar's reign to the middle of Shah Jahan's. The present essay throws ample light on this highly sensitive artist. In his late illustrations, Govardhan also became a supreme master of reticence, with no extraneous details known to appear in works reliably ascribed to his hand.

The Nyatapola Temple of Bhaktapur: A Mark of Nepalese Temple Design
Becker-Ritterspach, Raimund O.A.
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 70-77

The construction of the Nyatapola temple by Bhupatindramalla of Bhaktapur is viewed as both a political act as well as an outstanding step in the architectural development of the Kathmandu valley. The ambitious ruler integrated various styles of near-contemporary monuments while erecting this temple to his personal deity. The result is a building of the utmost harmony, defining canons of temple design observed until the end of Malla rule.

The Afsarwali Masjid and Afsarwala Gumbad at Nizamuddin, Delhi
Parihar, Subhash
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 78-83

The monuments situated within the enclosure adjoining Humayun's tomb at Nizamuddin, Delhi -- Afsarwali Masjid or "the officer's mosque" and Afsarwala Gumbad or "the officer's tomb" -- are discussed. The picturesque appearance of these impressive sanctuaries which inspired the Daniells to sketch them for their celebrated Oriental Scenery series, is described at some length.

Newsletters
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 84-97

Monisha Ahmed reports from Mumbai on the textile exhibition Minakar, a photography exhibition on what 50 years of independence has meant for Indian women, the Other Masters show and encroachments at Ellora; John Siudmak in the UK reviews Princes, Poets, Paladins, Islamic art from the Sadruddin Aga Khan collection, and a show in tribute to Toby Falk on paintings from the Johnson Collection; Tushara Bindu Gude in the USA reviews a show on the Ehrenfeld collection; Hana Knizkova reviews two exhibitions of Indian art held at the Naprstek Museum in Prague and one in Brno.

Book Review
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, pp. 98-105

Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India by Mark Zebrowski reviewed by Pratapaditya Pal; Tibetan Art: Toward a Definition of Style edited by Jane Casey Singer and Philip Denwood reviewed by Hira Paul Gangnegi; Alchi: Ladakh's Hidden Buddhist Sanctuary, the Sumtsek by Roger Goepper with photography by Jaroslav Poncar reviewed by Pratapaditya Pal; Discourse in Early Buddhist Art: Visual Narratives of India by Vidya Dehejia, reviewed by Ratan Parimoo.

Book Notice
Vol. 49 No. 4, June 1998, p. 106

Other Masters: Five Contemporary Folk and Tribal Artists of India edited by Jyotindra Jain.