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Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd.

A Lady Singing
Kishangarh, Rajasthan, circa 1760 A.D.
Watercolour with gold on paper;
on a gilt-ground album page decorated with floral sprigs
23.5 by 16 cm. miniature; 59.5 by 38 cm. album page

The subject represents a nayika, or ideal heroine, plucking the strings of a green and gilt tanpura which divides the page diagonally. This appears to be a later version of a similar picture in the collection of Sir Howard Hodgkin, which is larger and some twenty years earlier in date. The subject mater in each is almost identical but they are mirror images in terms of layout. This picture varies in several respects, not lease the use of impasto to emphasise the pearls, a technique familiar to other eighteenth century Rajasthani schools.

Writing about the Hodgkin picture, Andrew Topsfield (with Milo Cleveland Beach, Indian Paintings and Drawings from the collection of Howard Hodgkin, London, 1991, p.96, no.38), explains how this very distinctive ideal of physical beauty evolved under Maharaja Raj Singh (r.1706-48 A.D.) and his son Savant Singh (r.1748-64 A.D.).

Swiss private collection, acquired 1970s-80s

For a detailed discussion of the Kishangarh style, based on paintings in the royal collection, see Dickinson, E. and Karl Khandalavala, Kishangarh Painting, New Delhi, 1959.

all text & images Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd.

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