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Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch

Preparation of a Feast in a Palace
Bundi, circa 1620 A.D.
Gouache on paper with gold
215 by 130 mm., 8 ½ by 5 1/8 in.

The earliest known Bundi paintings are found in the Chunar Ragamala of 1590-91, in which an inscription identifies them as the work of the three sons of Shaikh Phul, who claim to have been pupils of the early Mughal masters Mir Sayyid Ali and Abd as-Samad. See Robert Skelton, Shaykh Phul and the Origins of Bundi Painting, Chhavi 2, Banaras, 1981, pp.123-129.

Athough here the architectural arrangement is more complex, it lacks the three dimensionality of the buildings found in the 1591 Ragamala, but has a much more developed sense of spatial recession. The artists are concerned about three dimensional space and this clearly indicates that it was done within the ambience of the earliest Mughal-inspired Bundi painting.

The subject of this painting is apparently unprecedented but it may have been an illustration from a set of Hindu tales, judging by the male figure who wears a sacred thread. It has something of the appearance of an illustration from the Hazanama manuscript, which takes us back to the three sons of Shaykh Phul.

Private collection, London, 1970s

all text, images � Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch


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