Indian summer
A season of exhibitions focusing on India

Summer 2009


Organised by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, India

Supported by

HSBC logo
Garden & cosmos

Garden & cosmos
The royal paintings of Jodhpur

28 May – 11 October 2009

Exhibition closed

Room 35

A rare chance to see paintings in the royal collection of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur.

India landscape: Kew at the British Museum

India landscape
Kew at the British Museum

1 May – 27 September 2009

Closed

West Lawn, British Museum forecourt

A diverse selection of plants from the Indian subcontinent, displaying a range of colours and scents from South Asia.


Garden & cosmos
The royal paintings of Jodhpur

  • A painting of Death of Vali; Rama and Lakshmana wait out of the monsoon (detail)

    Death of Vali; Rama and Lakshmana wait out of the monsoon (detail). Illustration from the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas (1532–1623) Jodhpur, c. 1775; 62.7 x 134.5 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of Chakras of the Subtle Body (detail)

    Chakras of the Subtle Body (detail), folio 2 from the Nath Charit. Attributed to Bulaki, 1823 (Samvat 1880); 46 x 122 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Creation of the Cosmic Ocean and the Elements (detail)

    The Creation of the Cosmic Ocean and the Elements (detail), folio 3 from the Shiva Purana, c. 1828; 45.5 x 124 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Cosmic Oceans (detail)

    Cosmic Oceans (detail), one of seven folios from the Nath Charit. Attributed to Bulaki, 1823 (Samvat 1880); 44.1 x 118.2 cm © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Cosmic Oceans (detail)

    Cosmic Oceans (detail), one of seven folios from the Nath Charit. Attributed to Bulaki, 1823 (Samvat 1880); 44.1 x 118.2 cm © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of Jallandharnath and the Princess flying (detail)

    Jallandharnath and the Princess Padmini fly over King Padam's palace (detail), folio 19 from the Suraj Prakash, Amardas Bhatti, 1830 (Samvat 1887); 23.3 x 38.6 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of Krishna frolicking with the Gopi girls (detail)

    Krishna frolics with the Gopi girls (detail), folio 2 from the Krishna Lila, Jodhpur, c. 1765; 63.5 x 136.5 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Maharaja Bakhat Singh (detail)

    Maharaja Bakhat Singh at the Jharokha window of the Bakhat Singh Mahal (detail). Attributed here to 'Artist 2', Nagaur, 1737 (Samvat 1794); 62.9 x 43.8 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Maharaja Bakhat Singh (detail)

    Maharaja Bakhat Singh rejoices during Holi (detail). Attributed here to 'Artist 3', Nagaur, c. 1748–50; 44.1 x 65.1 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Maharaja Bakhat Singh (detail)

    Maharaja Bakhat Singh and Zenana women savour the moonlight evening (detail). Attributed here to 'Artist 3', Nagaur, c. 1748–50; 45.4 x 63.5 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Mandala of Shiva (detail)

    The Mandala of Shiva (detail), folio 8 from the Shiva Rahasya, Jodhpur, 1827 (Samvat 1884); 46 x 121 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of the Mountains of the Eight Directions (detail)

    The Mountains of the Eight Directions (detail), folio 17 from the Shiva Rahasya, 1827 (Samvat 1884); 40.2 x 115.5 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

  • A painting of Rama's Army crossing the ocean to Lanka (detail)

    Rama's Army crosses the ocean to Lanka (detail), from the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas (1532–1623) Jodhpur, c. 1775; 63 x 125.8 cm. © Mehrangarh Museum Trust

This exhibition provides a rare chance to see paintings in the royal collection of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur.

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The exhibition will feature a loan of 56 paintings from India, none of which have been displayed before in Europe. It is a fantastic opportunity to experience the unique art tradition that flourished in the royal courts between the 17th and 19th centuries.

During this period, the region of Jodhpur, in modern-day Rajasthan, produced a distinctive and inventive painting style. Paintings produced for the private enjoyment of the Maharaja and his court brought together traditional Rajasthani styles and combined them with styles developed in the imperial court of the Mughals.

The paintings included in the exhibition range from a handful of miniatures to monumental artworks depicting the palaces, wives and families of the Jodhpur rulers.

Later works depict epic narratives and demonstrate the devotion of Maharaja Man Singh to an esoteric yogic tradition. Jodhpur artists rose to the challenge of creating images for metaphysical concepts and yoga narratives which had never previously been the focus of the region's court art.

The exhibition is part of Indian Summer, a season of exhibitions and events at the British Museum focusing on India, sponsored by HSBC Holdings.

Additional support for the international tour of Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur has been provided by Air India.


Resources for schools and teachers


India landscape
Kew at the British Museum

  • India Landscape at the British Museum
  • India Landscape at the British Museum
  • India Landscape at the British Museum
  • India Landscape at the British Museum

India Landscape is inspired by the collections of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It draws attention to the rich variety of plants and trees in the Indian subcontinent and the natural resources they provide.

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The Indian subcontinent is a vast region with diverse populations, climatic zones and some of the world’s richest but endangered habitats.

The landscape changes from the dramatic, rocky environment of the Himalayan mountains to the tropical lushness of southern India, through a temperate zone representing the plains. Star plants link with objects in the British Museum’s collection and paintings in the exhibition Garden and Cosmos.

Plants in India have traditionally been used in all aspects of everyday life. The landscape features plants used in food, medicine, religion, construction, weaving and commerce. The display demonstrates the global ecological and economic importance of this wildlife and how the plants are connected with many aspects of traditional Indian culture.

The British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

2009 marks the 250th anniversary of both the founding of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the British Museum’s opening to the public. India Landscape is part of a unique partnership between the British Museum and Kew, celebrating a shared vision to strengthen cultural understanding and support biodiversity conservation across the world.


Plants used in the landscape


This display of plants and trees illustrates the immense range of Indian botanical plant diversity. The climatic variation of the Indian subcontinent is suggested by dividing the planting into three geographical zones, representing a journey from north to south.

Graphic plan of India Landscape
Drawing of a Betel nut plam

2. ‘Betel nut’ palm

Areca catechu

Photography of a leaf from the Peepul tree

3. Peepul

Ficus religiosa

Drawing of lotus flower

4. Lotus

Nelumbo nucifera


Photograph of Coconut palm

5. Coconut palm

Cocos nucifera

Photograph of Himalayan walnut

6. Himalayan walnut

Juglans regia

Drawing of a French marigold

7. French marigold

Tagetes patula

Drawing of Cranesbill flower

8. Cranesbill

Geranium wallichianum


Drawing of branch from the Banyan tree

9. Banyan

Ficus benghalensis

Photography of Scholar tree

10. Scholar tree

Alstonia scholaris

Photography of Bamboo

11. Bamboo

Bambusa vulgaris

Photograph of Mango fruit

12. Mango

Mangifera indica

Photgraphy of Himalayan blue poppy flower

13. Himalayan blue poppy

Meconopsis betonicifolia

Photography of Purple roscoea flower

14. Purple roscoea

Roscoea purpurea

Photograph of Sweet box plant

15. Sweet box

Sarcococca hookeriana

Image credits

2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12
© RBG Kew

3, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15
© Richard Wilford, RBG Kew

Plants represented in the collection


Painting of seven Hindu ascetics under a banyan tree

Banyan

Yogis seated beneath a banyan tree. North India, 1700s.

Circular pandan with hinged domical lid with a spire

‘Betel nut’ palm

Pandan (box to hold betel ingredients and equipment). North India, 1800s.

The Manley Ragamala

Scholar tree

The heroine’s scribe uses a wooden writing board. Rajasthan, about 1610.

Figure depicting the sun god (Surya)

Lotus

The sun-god Surya, whose emblem is the lotus in full bloom. Orissa, 1200s.


The Gazi Scroll

‘Betel nut’ palm

A raja takes a betel quid from a servant. Detail from the Gazi scroll. Bengal, about 1800.

Plaque made of lac showing the Buddha seated in a shrine

Peepul

Leaf-shaped plaque depicting the Buddha beneath the peepul. Bodh Gaya, India about AD 800.

 A garden scene with Rama and Lakamana

Holy basil

Rama, hero of the epic the Ramayana, honours a tulsi plant. North India, 1800s.

Bhairavi ragini / The Manley Ragamala

Lotus

Island shrine in a lotus pond. Rajasthan, about 1610.


Coracle of bamboo

Bamboo

Split bamboo is woven to make circular boats (coracles). This is in the Museum's collection.

Octagonal pillar

Peepul

The peepul tree beneath which the Buddha sat. Amaravati. 1st century AD.

Painting depicting devotion to the tulsi plant

Holy basil

A female devotee approaches a tulsi plant. North India, 1700s.


Community participation

An Indian Summer: film with Heston Community School