An intriguing study
India offers an incredible range of subjects that are expressed through art. The country has attracted artists from abroad, going back to a misty past, and in present times the enthusiasm and talent in India is equally intriguing because a flair for art can manifest an artist of any age group.
It is indeed an interesting study if we reflect the work of Thomas and William Daniell, who lived in India between the years 1785 and 1793. Their travels took them to many inaccessible places, in India, during an era when movement in interior areas of the country was always a hazardous adventure. But the artists were driven by zeal and enthusiasm.When the Daniell duo first arrived India via Calcutta they immediately began sketching scenes of Calcutta and compiled the work in a volume, ‘Views of Calcutta.’ This series is famous because the collection of twelve images was the only series of paintings, during that period, which actually depicted India. They began their Indian tours by visiting Delhi and then reached the Taj Mahal on 22nd of January, 1789. Of course, they could not resist the temptation to stay on in the area to paint their famous work they titled,’The Taj Mahal‘.
From Agra they travelled north and it is believed that they were the first Europeans to explore Garhwal, and William Daniell’s diary is full of all the attractions and beauty of the country-side. When they subsequently traversed to Western India they toured Kanheri, located twenty miles from Bombay, and at Kanheri they were enchanted by the famous cave temples. William Daniell’s depiction on a painting with a title, ‘Cave Temple at Kanheri,’ is an exquisite work of art by the talented artist. To view these paintings is an education and it evokes the beauty and scenic wonders that adorn our country.
One painting depicted in this narrative is the “The Rajpootnee Bride,” by William Daniell. It displays an aristocratic Indian lady . On each arm is a gold bangle and her neck and head are decorated with pearls. She is wearing a diaphanous, transparent veil. The piece de resistance of this incredible work is the spellbinding effect of the veil’s transparency interpreted by the artist. The intricate details of jewelry are unbelievable; above all, it evokes India’s rich and elegant heritage.
The second sketch depicted here is by Miss Vishwarupa Rath, who is 14 years old, in Class 9, studying at the Ahlcon International School , New Delhi. Miss Rath’s sketch has emphasized different qualities and an academic interpretation instantly evokes the remarkable talent and potential that is present within the mind of this young artist. Her depiction of a young Indian lady projects the subject’s lock of hair which is displayed on the left side of her face. The hair is also somewhat shorter; a style that can be juxtaposed with a different era, because 200 years ago, as seen in the ‘Rajpootnee Bride,’ trimmed hair was not encouraged, but today as sketched by Miss Rath, shorter locks are permissible by society. The other factor that is significant in the young artist’s work is the incredible effect of kajal, or kohl, around the eyes. Kajal represents a very traditional cosmetic of India and Miss Rath’s art has acknowledged that the younger generation still value Indian traditions. Her sketch has also displayed jewelry and the presence of a tika on the lady’s forehead, an ear-ring on the right ear which is exposed, a necklace and a ring on the index finger of the left hand, is praiseworthy, because Miss Rath has not at all overlooked our traditional heritage. The three sketches grouped together, of her work, have shown, with astounding effect, the prominent eyes and beautiful eyelashes of the subject; this is a fascinating feature and one is instantly convinced of beholding a form of beauty, through Miss Rath’s expressive and imaginative art.
Art has a profound history in India and is full of interesting sights that attract the involvement of artists in the country. Maurice Shellim, a British doctor, who lived for many years in India, was absorbed by the work carried out by British and Indian artists.
His words, manifest with pithy, articulated the wonders that attar–cted British artists to paint and sketch on this magnificent land: “Hindustan! Many tongued, many handed, Why camest thou to dazzle our eyes, To lend all thy lures When we landed, Thy sun, and thy scent, and thy skies.”
by Deepak Rikhye
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