Rajput Paintings originated in
Rajasthan state of India. Rajasthani Paintings show strong Mughal
painting originated in the royal states of Rajasthan, somewhere around
the late 16th and early 17th century. The Mughals ruled almost all the
princely states of Rajasthan at that time and because of this; most of
the schools of Rajput Painting in India reflect strong Mughal influence.
Each of the Rajput kingdoms evolved a distinctive style. However,
similarities and common features can still be found in the paintings of
One can also observe the dominance of Chaurapanchasika group style in
Indian Rajasthani Paintings. The main themes around which Rajasthani
Paintings of India revolved include the Great epics of Ramayana and the
Mahabharata, the life of Lord Krishna, landscapes and humans. Rajput
paintings of India were also done on the walls of palaces, inner
chambers of the forts, havelis, etc. Colors used for the painting were
derived from minerals, plant sources, conch shells, precious stones,
gold and silver, etc.
Schools of Rajput Painting
Starting from the 16th century, when the Rajput Painting originated,
numerous schools emerged, including:
- Bikaner School
- Bundi-Kota Kalam School
- Jaipur School
- Kishengarh School
- Marwar School
- Mewar School
- Raagamala School
Amber and Jaipur
The paintings of Amber and Jaipur show strong Mughal influence.
However, at the same time, the bold compositions and use of abstractions
reflected regional characteristics. The 18th and early 19th century saw
Rajput paintings illustrating episodes from the life of Krishna. The
other popular themes of the 19th century were Ragamala and devotional
Rajasthani paintings of Bikaner were also based on Mughal tradition.
Apart from the Mughal style, the paintings of Bikaner also reflect
marked influence of Deccan paintings. During the late 18th century, the
city started showing conservative Rajput styles with smoothness and
abstractions. However, they were devoid of any pomposity and
Rajput paintings started originating in Bundi around the late 16th
century and reflected heavy Mughal influence. Wall paintings, dating
back to the reign of Rao Ratan Singh (1607-1631), are good examples of
Bundi style of paintings. The time of Rao Chattar Sal (1631-1658) and
Bhao Singh (1658-1681) saw great emphasis on court scenes as themes.
Other themes include those based on the lives of nobles, lovers and
Kota paintings look very natural in their appearance and are
calligraphic in their execution. The reign of Jagat Singh (1658-1684)
saw vivacious colors and bold lines being used in portraitures. With the
arrival of Arjun Singh (1720-1723), the painting started depicting males
with a long hooked nose. 18th century was also the time for hunting
scenes, Ragamalas, and portraits as the themes. Ram Singh II (1827-1866)
ordered the depiction of worship, hunting, darbar and processions in
Kishangarh style of painting was basically a fusion of Mughal and
regional style. The most common theme of this style consisted of the
depiction of the love between Krishna and Radha. Other popular themes
included the poetry of Sawant Singh, Shahnama and court scenes, etc.
Kishangarh School is best known for its Bani Thani paintings. With the
demise of Savant Singh and his leading painters, this school lost its
glory and started breaking down.
One of the most conservative Rajput Painting Schools of the 17th
century, Malwa was highly influenced by Chaurpanchasika style. The
emphasis was laid on strong colors and bold lines. At times, one can
also observe a remote Mughal influence on these paintings.
The earliest example of the Rajasthani paintings of Marwar is that of
Ragamala, which was painted in Pali in 1623. In the 18th century, the
most common themes included, the portraitures of nobles on horses and
darbar scenes. With the arrival of artists like Dalchand, Marwar
paintings also started reflecting Mughal influence.
Mewar school of Rajput paintings concentrated on its conservative
style, trying to avoid the dominance of the Mughals. The earliest
example of the Mewar School is that of Chawand Ragamala, dating back to
1605. One can observe heavy similarity with the Chaurapanchasika style,
especially the flatness, the bright colors, and even common motifs.
Towards the end of the 17th century and the early 18th century, Mewar
style saw revival and late 18th century again witnessed its decline.
From mid 19th century to mid 20th century, it continued as a court art.