Loading Events

« All Events

[Illinois] Exhibition of Indian paintings passed ‘From Hand to Hand’ at Krannert Art Museum

February 28 @ 6:00 pm - March 28 @ 8:00 pm

FEB 13, 2019 10:00 AM
JODI HECKEL

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Small, richly colored paintings created in northern India from the late 1500s to the early 1800s animate vivid stories from the great Hindu epics, passionate verses of devotional and love poetry, and noble portraits of Rajput royals. Selections from Krannert Art Museum’s collection of such paintings will be on view in the exhibition “From Hand to Hand: Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India,” opening Feb. 28 with a public reception at 6 p.m.

Small in scale and featuring rich jewel-toned colors made from ground semiprecious stones and other organic materials, paintings produced for the Rajput courts were not meant to be framed on a wall or looked at from a distance. Instead, they were meant to be held, passed from person to person and shared for intimate viewing with courtiers or given as gifts.

Illustrated folio from a Sangrahani Sutra loose-leaf manuscript, 17th century
Courtesy Krannert Art Museum

Many of the paintings were commissioned by royals and created in workshops of the Rajput courts – semi-independent Hindu states in northern India that had come under the control of the Mughal empire.

“During this time period in India, paintings became an important medium of visual culture, complementing music and poetry,” said Allyson Purpura, the curator of global African art at KAM. “Typically referred to as ‘miniatures,’ these paintings were meant to be held in the hand and passed around at what some scholars have called a picture session. Personal contact was part of the process of sharing them.

“In addition to poetry or scenes from Hindu legends, Rajput rulers also commissioned numerous portraits of themselves,” Purpura said. “Giving your portrait to a friend or ally not only announced allegiances, it was also a very intimate gesture. Giving your likeness was giving an embodiment of yourself.”

The paintings on view show dramatic scenes designed to evoke certain moods in the viewer. Some were inspired by the bhakti devotional movement, in which a devotee’s loving adoration of Krishna became a metaphor for union with a transcendent god, Purpura said.

“Abhisandhita Nayika: Radha and Krishna estranged by a quarrel,” 19th century
Courtesy Krannert Art Museum

“But while the mischievous Krishna is the ultimate figure in the dramas of both divine and earthly love, it is women – the heroines, their devoted attendants and Radha herself, Krishna’s supreme love – and their romantic predicaments that take center stage in many of these paintings,” she said.

“Many of the works were mobile, as were artists themselves. Some moved between workshops connected to the courts, developing their own rich, hybrid idioms inspired by local Indian and Mughal styles,” Purpura said.

Not all of the paintings in KAM’s collection were princely commissions. Some of the paintings may have been used as aids for traveling storytellers. Others were meant to be carried by pilgrims on journeys to temples in eastern India. Many of the works are illustrations from personal albums or religious manuscripts whose individual pages have long been dispersed.

“Kakubha Ragini,” 18th century
Courtesy Krannert Art Museum
Summary
Exhibition of Indian paintings passed 'From Hand to Hand' at Krannert Art Museum
Article Name
Exhibition of Indian paintings passed 'From Hand to Hand' at Krannert Art Museum
Description
Small, richly colored paintings created in northern India from the late 1500s to the early 1800s animate vivid stories from the great Hindu epics, passionate verses of devotional and love poetry, and noble portraits of Rajput royals.

Details

Start:
February 28 @ 6:00 pm
End:
March 28 @ 8:00 pm
Event Category:
Event Tags:
, , , , , ,

Venue

Krannert Art Museum
500 E Peabody Dr
Champaign, IL 61820 United States
+ Google Map

 

Summary
Exhibition of Indian paintings passed 'From Hand to Hand' at Krannert Art Museum
Article Name
Exhibition of Indian paintings passed 'From Hand to Hand' at Krannert Art Museum
Description
Small, richly colored paintings created in northern India from the late 1500s to the early 1800s animate vivid stories from the great Hindu epics, passionate verses of devotional and love poetry, and noble portraits of Rajput royals.