IMPORTANT AND RARE LARGE INDIAN 'COMPANY STYLE' PAINTING ON IVORY DEPICTING A PARADE
North India, late 19th century
Opaque watercolour and gold on ivory, in finely carved ivory frame.
H. 27.6 x W. 37.3 cm (excl. frame)
H. 38.8 x W. 45.4 cm (incl. frame)
The painting depicts a ruler, perhaps the ruler of Jodhpur, carried on a palaquin amidst an extensive procession of noblemen, musicians and attendants, coming out of a town on a hill top, a cannon on the town wall firing. The frame, also in ivory, is carved in shallow relief with entwined floral motifs. In the 19th century after the British East India Company occupied Delhi in 1803 and the breaking up of Mughal suzerainty, the Company played the dominant political and administrative role in India. Artists once active in the Mughal workshops were out to seek other lucrative employment and the style of Indian painting came more and more under English/European patronage. This style is known as “Company style painting”. Native Indian talents, now employed by the new rulers, adapted themselves to the new style by studying and copying available European models. Company style paintings were more naturalistic and picturesque and ivory (as well as glass and mica) was a popular new medium with European collectors. Following the English tradition of miniature portrait paintings on ivory, Indian painters perfected the technique of painting on ivory. Most paintings on ivory were small portraits or fanciful architecture. Large paintings on ivory the seize of the present one are very rare.
I really like this painting very much. What makes it special for me is the contrast between the fine, crowded and colourful painted figures in serene white clothing and the fine carved white frame with flower motifs in relief.