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Nazar portrait by Ustad Mahmood of Maharaja Shromani Surat Singh-ji (r.1787-1828) . Bikaner, 1793. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 32.5 x 23.2cm
Published, 'The Bikaner School; Usta Artisans and Their Heritage', Shanane Davis, 2008, pages 306-7.
An ustad is a master artist and a nazar painting is one that is given personally by the artist to the maharaja as a gift to celebrate state occassions or religious festivals. This example is unique in being the only one of a living ruler, all known others being of previous rulers. Shanane Davis believes this was most likely because the artist wished to emphasise his loyalty during a time of unrest in Bikaner state. (p. 169)
Due to close contacts Bikaner painting came under the influence of the Jodhpur court style in the late 18th, and that of Jaipur in the 19th century.
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Above: gilt detail relfecting light
Images and text © Peter Blohm