Posted on: 18 April 2013

Princess listening to music
Guler, India
ca. 1810-ca. 1820
Gouache on paper
Pahari style

Copyright: © V&A Images

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Thank you!

The graceful, delicate and innocently romantic Guler style...there is a lyrical feel and fluency and definite openness in the designs compared to the stiffness of Mughal minatures ....though the foliage were completely conventionalized the delicacy and freshness of the color palette is pretty much evident.

V&A acquired it's collection of Pahari miniatures when W. G. Archer was the Keeper of it's Indian Section. Archer too is credited with identifying distinct styles and pinning them to the princely states they originated in. His "Visions of Courtly India" gives a succinct introduction to them. For example, he associates the (late) Guler style with a single line for the forehead and the nose, the depiction of vertical cypress trees and use of plantain leaves, all of which could be noted in this specimen.

This is akin to the Lucknow style, particularly in a miniature in the British Library (formerly India Office Collections) of a woman with three attendants/friends, smoking a hooka in a very refined setting of a garden and a bit of a palace in the background. Very happy to see that hooka snakes were such objets d'art. Lovely, thanks.