On the Christie's website, one can see an exquisite illustration from the Bharany Ramayana series, which shows the monkey army intruding upon a demon's cave. The painting from Kangra dates back to 1775-80 and has been attributed to a first-generation artist after Nainsukh or Manaku. These works feature in the debut online sales, 'Arts of India', which in turn is part of the ongoing Asian Art Week at Christie's.
“Headlining the sale is a large and important painted pichvai depicting Vishnu in his cosmic form, Vishvarupa. The sale also highlights important court paintings, including a folio from the ‘Bharany’ Ramayana series, a large format scene from Purkhu’s Kirata Arjuniya, and five folios from a Nepalese Bhagavata Purana series,” states the auction note.
The lots on offer feature some of the masterpieces, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, from the various courts of Rajasthan, Kangra, Mandi, Nepal, and more. A fine example of this is an illustration from a Bhagvata Purana series: ‘Kings Gambling’, Nepal (1775). According to the auction note, this painting belongs to a known group of dispersed folios from the Bhagvata Purana, recognisable from their large dimensions and distinctive border.
It was painted during the rule of the Gurkha dynasty in Nepal, which claimed its descent from the Rajas of Chittorgarh, after fleeing from the Mughals to seek refuge in Nepal. “As such, the palette, narrative and depiction of figures seem to relate to central Indian painting. The wonderful aerial view revealing the complex architectural composition in multiple perspectives has parallels with later Mewari court painting (Hurel and Okada, Pouvoir et Desir: Miniatures Indiennes Collection Edwin Binney 3rd du san Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, 2002, pp. 114-115, cat.42),” states the note.
Another highlight of the sale is a set of Company painting. Especially striking is a painting of a marriage procession by night, attributed to the circle of Sewak Ram, Patna (1810). The city of Patna was the most flourishing and productive Company schools of painting.
This curated selection of paintings and sculptures from the Indian subcontinent will close on 27 September.
Also read: A note on the issue: Living art traditions