Since Independence the princes and regional rulers of India have mostly been seen as I anachronistic figures, too closely associated with the former Colonial government, and often a byword for extravagance, sybaritic lifestyles, and mild despotism. When they stripped of their privy purses by Indira Gandhi in 1971, there were more protests in Britain than in India. No serious efforts have been made to put these men, and a few women, in a pictorial context, to analyse the differing styles of portraiture favoured by them, and the motives behind the pictures. Portraits in Princely India examines the rulers at war, at play, in the durbar, visiting shrines, temples, Und mosques, and receiving ambassadors.
The stories behind the portraits are examined too : Why were they commissioned? Who commissioned them? What were the rulers saying about themselves (and sometimes their ancestors)? The more one gazes at these important but hitherto neglected works of art, the more questions are raised. This book attempts to answer/interpret some of them.
The arrival of European painters in late 18th-century India presented a new opportunity for Indian rulers to commission self-portraits of a different kind, and also to influence Indigenous artists in new styles and Paint mediums. The advent of Photography brought a further opportunity for them to be pictured in different ways, e.g. after a Successful tiger hunt or welcoming a British official. In short, there is a Wealth of paintings, especially lesser-known provincial pictures, that are subjected here modern, critical analysis while presenting handsome Images to the reader.