The Indian Portrait

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Edited by Rosemary Crill and Kapil Jariwala
Contributions by J.P. Losty, Robert Skelton and Susan Stronge


This book tells the story of portrait-painting by Indian artists from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Beginning in the Mughal court under emperor Akbar and encompassing portraiture in the Rajput courts and the Company period, the authors explore the role of portraiture in India, and the development of styles, techniques and subjects.

The role of the portrait in India between 1560 and 1860 served as an official chronicle or eye-witness account, as a means of revealing the intimate moments of everyday life, and as a tool for propaganda. Yet the proliferation and mastery of Indian portraiture in the Mughal and Rajput courts brought a new level of artistry and style to the genre. The rise of the ‘observed' portrait, brought about largely through European influences, enabled Mughal artists to address realism, which in turn led to the ‘empathy' portrait. This depicted the sitter as a psychological entity for the first time in Indian art, revealing an individual's fallibility and compassion, or simply recorded how sitters really looked.

The Indian portrait is thus the sophisticated product of indigenous development and foreign influence. These beautifully reproduced paintings are a record of a rich and complex history, embracing influences from Iran to Europe, as well as Hindu and Muslim traditions. Bringing together over sixty works, this book celebrates the beauty, power and humanity of Indian portraits, demonstrating how the Indian portrait stands shoulder to shoulder with the best examples of portraiture from around the world.

Rosemary Crill is a Senior Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her publications include Chintz: Indian Textiles for the West and Marwar Painting.
Kapil Jariwala is an independent curator whose recent publications include Cultural Ties.
J.P. Losty is former Head of Prints, Drawings and Photographs at the British Library, where he curated the Ramayana exhibition in 2008.
Robert Skelton is a former Keeper of the Indian Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum and has written extensively on Indian painting and decorative arts.
Susan Stronge is a Senior Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Her publications include Painting for the Mughal Emperor and Tipu's Tigers.

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Pub. date: 11 March 2010
Introductory Gallery price £20 (RRP £25)
ISBN: 978 1 85514 409 5
Format: 287 x 230mm
Extent: 176 pages
Illustrations: 90
Binding: Hardback
Category: Fine Art
Word count: Approx 37,000

The book cover features ‘Kunwar Anop Singh of Devgarh riding with a falcon',
c. 1776 

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