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Splendor and Intimacy: Mughal and Rajput Courtly Life, Part 1

August 4, 2007–November 3, 2007
Gallery 101A

Exquisite miniature paintings and decorative arts including jades, jewelry, and weapons demonstrate the richness of the arts that were produced in South Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries. The selection of objects in this exhibition offers a glimpse into the courtly life of the Mughal emperors (1526–1857) as well as that of their Rajput opponents and vassals.

The interaction between the imperial Mughal dynasty and the rugged, aristocratic, and proud Rajputs led to an immense flowering of art and architecture seen most magnificently in the Taj Mahal, which has greatly enhanced the architectural and artistic heritage of India and Pakistan. War, marriage, and diplomacy all contributed to the exquisite fusion of Persianate Islamic art with native Rajput traditions.

The miniature paintings on display in Splendor and Intimacy reveal the private and public lives of Mughal and Rajput rulers behind their fortress walls. The magnificent depiction of a sovereign in full procession (see illustration), formal portraits of rulers and courtiers bearing arms in proud profile, intimate scenes within the zenana (harem) of a palace, and the image of a maiden at her toilette are windows onto the realms of Mughal and Rajput royalty. The fine detail and ornamentation of the textiles, arms, and jewelry worn by those depicted in the miniatures are reflected in the decorative arts that accompany the paintings.

This exhibition is presented in two parts, with a second installation of paintings in November. Splendor and Intimacy is part of India Pakistan 60, a series of events to be presented this summer and fall in celebration of Indian and Pakistani culture at the Art Institute and to commemorate the 60th year of independence of India and Pakistan.

Maharana Bhim Singh Riding in Procession, c. 1820. Attributed to Ghasi. India; Rajasthan, Mewar, Udaipur Royal Atelier. Everett and Ann McNear Collection.