Rajput painting

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An 18th-century Rajput painting by the artist Nihâl Chand.
Godhuli, Mewar, ca. 1813

Rajput painting, also called Rajasthani painting, evolved and flourished in the royal courts of Rajputana in India. Each Rajputana kingdom evolved a distinct style, but with certain common features. Rajput paintings depict a number of themes, events of epics like the Ramayana. Miniatures in manuscripts or single sheets to be kept in albums were the preferred medium of Rajput painting, but many paintings were done on the walls of palaces, inner chambers of the forts, havelis, particularly, the havelis of Shekhawati, the forts and palaces built by Shekhawat Rajputs.

The colours were extracted from certain minerals, plant sources, conch shells, and were even derived by processing precious stones. Gold and silver were used. The preparation of desired colours was a lengthy process, sometimes taking 2 weeks. Brushes used were very fine.


While there exist a plethora of themes in Rajput paintings, a common motif found throughout Rajput works is the purposeful manipulation of space. In particular, the inclusion of fuller spaces is meant to emphasize the lack of boundaries and inseparability of characters and landscapes. In this way, the individuality of physical characters is almost rejected, allowing both the depicted backgrounds and human figures to be equally expressive.

Outside of a purely artistic standpoint, Rajput paintings were often politically charged and commented on social values of the time. Mewar's rulers wanted these painting to portray their ambitions and establish their legacy. Therefore, paintings were often indicative of a ruler's legacy or their changes made to better society.

Both of these factors clearly distinguish Rajput paintings from Mughal works. While, from a chronological standpoint, both of these cultures clashed with one another, Rajput paintings only superficially adopted Mughal fashion and cultural standards. Elements, such as distinct portraiture, utilized by popular Mughal artists (Govardhan, Hashim, etc.) are not found in Rajput works. Likewise, Rajput techniques are not predominantly seen in Mughal paintings.

"At the opening of the eighteenth century, therefore, Rajput painting remains recognizably different in intent from traditional Mughal attitudes" (Beach 175).


Krishna and Radha, might be the work of Nihal Chand, a master of the Kishangarh school trained at the imperial court in Delhi.[1]

In the late 16th Century, Rajput art schools began to develop distinctive styles, combining indigenous as well as foreign influences such as Persian, Mughal, Chinese and European.[2] Rajasthani painting consists of four principal schools that have within them several artistic styles and substyles that can be traced to the various princely states that patronised these artists. The four principal schools are:

  1. The Mewar school that contains the Chavand, Nathdwara, Devgarh, Udaipur and Sawar styles of painting
  2. The Marwar school comprising the Kishangarh, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Pali and Ghanerao styles
  3. The Hadoti school with the Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar styles and
  4. The Dhundar school of Amber, Jaipur, Shekhawati and Uniara styles of painting.

The Kangra and Kullu schools of art are also part of Rajput painting. Nainsukh is a famous artist of Pahari painting, working for Rajput princes who then ruled that far north.

Economic prosperity of commercial community and revival of “Vaisnavism” and the growth of Bhakti Cult were the major factors that contributed greatly to the development of Rajasthani paintings. In the beginning this style was greatly influenced by religious followers like Ramanuja, Meerabai, Tulsidas, Sri Chaitanya, Kabir and Ramanand.

All of Rajputana was affected by the attack of the Mughals but Mewar did not come under their control till the last. This was the reason that Rajasthani school flourished first in Mewar, (the purest form and later on in), Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bundi, Kota- Kalam, Kishangarh, Bikaner and other places of Rajasthan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Krishna and Radha". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  2. ^ Neeraj, Jai Singh (1991). Splendour Of Rajasthani Painting. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. p. 13.
  • The City Palace Museum, Udaipur: paintings of Mewar court life. by Andrew Topsfield, Pankaj Shah, Government Museum, Udaipur. Mapin, 1990. ISBN


  • Splendour of Rajasthani painting, by Jai Singh Neeraj. Abhinav Publications, 1991. ISBN 81-7017-267-5.
  • Art and artists of Rajasthan: a study on the art & artists of Mewar with reference to western Indian school of painting, by Radhakrishna Vashistha. Abhinav Publications, 1995. ISBN 81-7017-284-5.
  • A study of Bundi school of painting, by Jiwan Sodhi. Abhinav Publications, 1999. ISBN 81-7017-347-7
  • Court painting at Udaipur: art under the patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, by Andrew Topsfield, Museum Rietberg. Artibus Asiae Publishers, 2001. ISBN 3-907077-03-2.
  • Rajput Painting, by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Publisher B. R. Publishing Corporation, 2003. ISBN 81-7646-376-0.
  • The artists of Nathadwara: the practice of painting in Rajasthan, by Tryna Lyons. Indiana University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-253-34417-4.
  • Beach, M. (1992). 1700–1800: The Dominance of Rajput Painting. In Mughal and Rajput Painting (The New Cambridge History of India, pp. 174–213). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CHOL9780521400275.008
  • Ghosh, P. (2012). The Intelligence of Tradition in Rajput Court Painting. Art Bulletin, 94(4), 650-652.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Category:Indian painting