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Francesca Galloway Ltd
Jharokha Portrait of Rao Lakhpatji (1707 61)

Rajasthan, Kutch, by a Nagaur or Jodhpuri artist from the court of Bakhat Singh, 1740 50
24 3/4 x 14 1/2 ins (62.8 x 37 cms)
opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Inscribed in Devanagari: Maharao Shri Lakhpatji and in Gujarati at the back: Lakhpatji ni (of Lakhpatji).

Maharao Lakhpatji (r.1741 60) was probably the most important and innovative of the rulers of Kutch. He was a pivotal figure in the development of Kutch painting of which little was known prior to the 18th century.
It is thought that the major influences came from Mewar and Malwa with whom Kutch had both strong political and matrimonial links.

In 1741, aged 34, Latkhpatji peacefully seized control of the court at Bhuj and in 1752 he became on the death of his father, the popular and versatile Rao Desalji. Latkhpatji was the first Kutch ruler to visit the Mughal court, attending the durbar of the Emperor Muhammad Shah, and was granted the royal title of Mirza Maharao in 1757.

Lakhpatji�s interest in European decoration is perhaps his most interesting legacy. The royal palace in Bhuj, the Aina Mahal, built around the middle of the 18th century, is a wonderful and early example of Indian 'Europeanerie'.

Ramsingh Malam, a Kutch craftsman who spent nearly twenty years in Europe, introduced both European technology and decorative arts to the Kutch court and, under the patronage of Lakhpatji, he returned to Europe with his apprentices and brought back Venetian chandeliers, Dutch tiles, European prints, mirrors and rococo type decoration which were all incorporated into the interior decoration of the Aina Mahal.

It is into this environment that the large scale jharokha portraits of Rao Lakhpatji, Rao Desalji and would have been set into recesses or glass frames on the palace walls, as can still be seen in situ.

The jharokha portrait is a Mughal invention, which was used to create an aura of dignity and royalty. The Mughal emperors, and later the rulers of the various states of India, had the tradition every morning, before commencing their governmental duties, of showing themselves to their subjects from the same window of their castle or palace. This became known as the jharokha window. Large-scale portraits are rare but not unknown in Rajasthani portraiture. The aloofness of expression, fine attention to detail and richness of dress, jewellery and textiles evoke the grandeur of the Mughal court. Other examples of these large scale portraits are in the collections of Goenkha, Sir Howard Hodgkin and the National Museum in New Delhi.

Maharaja Bakhat Singh visited Rao Lakhpatji of Kutch while he was ruler of Nagaur (between 1740 and his accession to the Jodhpur throne in 1751). He took with him a group of artists who recorded his visit at Kutch and probably painted this portrait of Rao Lakhpatji and Rao Desalji as well as several well known durbar and processional scenes. Large scale Rajasthani portraiture is rare and these two portraits are extremely similar to the Jharokha portrait of Maharaja Bakhat Singh circa 1740 now in the Goenka Collection and another portrait in the Howard Hodgkin Collection. These similarities and attributions have been identified by Rosemary Crill in her book on Marwar Painting. She also rightly attributes the Nagaur/Jodhpur style to several durbar and processional scenes painted for Rao Lakhpatji.


� B.N.Goswamy & Dallapiccola, A.L. A Place Apart: Painting in Kutch 1720 1820, 1983

� B.N. Goswamy Painting in Kutch: Surprises and Delight, in Marg The Arts of Kutch

� Jaffer, A. The Aina Mahal: An Early Example of 'Europeanerie ' in Marg The Arts of Kutch, Ed London, D.W., 2000, pp 62 75, pl 6.

� Cary Welch, S. India Art & Culture New York 1985, no 246, p 268

� Indian Miniatures from the 16th 19th century Howard Hodgkin 1997, no 83,

� Crill, R. Marwar painting A History of the Jodhpur Style. Fig. 18, 19, 67, 72 p97.

all text & images © Francesca Galloway Ltd

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