Opaque pigment on paper heightened with gold
Image 14.4 x 23.6 cm. Folio 19.2 x 28.5 cm.
Numbered 1 on the reverse, with Mandi stamp bearing number 545.
Further inscribed in Takri ‘sri Ganapati’. Lord Ganapati
Inscribed in Devanagari on the reverse ‘sri ganpat ji. Patre 41 sam sundar sangara re likha vijay sene pahela patra.1.’
Lord Ganapati. First page of the forty-one pages of the Sundar Shringar kept by [Raja] Vijay Sen [of Mandi]
For two further pages from the same series see J. P. Losty, A Mystical Realm of Love, Pahari paintings from the Eva and Konrad Seitz Collection, cat. 81 and 82, p. 290-295.
The current painting belongs to a series of illustrations based on the Sundar Shringar, a poem detailing the moods of love and the classification of literary heroes and heroines or nayaka-nayika bheda. The poem was composed by the poet Sundar Das in 1631. In the present series, the characters of Radha and Krishna are used to present idealized notions of courtship and romance between the hero and heroine, which are celebrated in the poem. Lord Ganesha, as the god of beginnings and the remover of obstacles is traditionally presented at the opening of Hindu manuscripts, and the number one inscribed on the reverse of the current work confirms that this page was indeed used as an invocational frontispiece for the series. The second inscription further confirms that the manuscript had moved to the Mandi Court during the reign of Raja Vijay or Bijai Sen, the 16thRaja of Mandi who was born in 1846 and reigned from 1851-1902. All known pages from this series have come from the Mandi group and in it is tempting to surmise that the forty one pages listed represented the full series.
There is a striking similarity between the present series and the famous Tehri Garhwal Gita Govinda, which is rendered in the same exquisite palette and delicate style. The refinement of the present group suggests that the artist was at least aware of the other series and may have worked in that court atelier during the same period. Losty states ‘the spirit of Nainsukh pervades paintings from the series in their formal perfection and tranquility.’ (Losty, p.292.) He further suggests that the landscape format of the series may pay homage to the earlier Basohli or Nurpur Rasamanjari set which follows the same format.
For other illustrations from the same series see Sotheby’s New York, April 1, 2005, lots 110-113; September 20, 2005, lots 106-109; March 29, 2006, lots 149-152; September 19, 2006, lots 1-5, March 19, 2008, lots 205-208 and September 19, 2008, lots 201-204.