Glass Paintings- An Emphemeral Art in India

Glass Paintings- An Emphemeral Art in India

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Book Specification

Item Code: AZE602
Author: Samita Gupta
Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 1997
ISBN: 8170189187
Pages: 92 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00x9.00
Weight 720 gm

Book Description

I have great pleasure in introducing the present monograph by Dr. Samita Gupta. Dr. Gupta is a student, and a teacher as well, of history and her interest in the cultural history of the British period and the one that immediately preceded it, brought her to the Deccan College for her doctorate. Her thesis on the Colonial culture on Western India (published under the title Architecture and the Raj) has been well received by the scholarly world. Her attention naturally turned to other aspects of the culture of this period.

Her attention was drawn to a comparatively new field, underclass paintings. A large number of these were in the collection of the Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal of Pune and as a member of the Mandal, she had an opportunity to study it. Dr. Gupta soon found that there were other, though smaller collections of similar paintings with some families in Pune. She could study these as well. These paintings, hardly comparable in quality to the miniatures of the Rajasthani or the Mughal schools, represent a novel technique; these are done in oil rather than in water as was the earlier practice. The choice of the themes also is a departure from the traditional ones. They consist almost entirely of portraits, with attempts to bring out the individuality of the person concerned. And their significance lies, as the author has shown, not so much in art-historical as cultural studies-they represent an exotic fashion and trend.

The patronage for these artists came from the nobility of the region. However, the patrons found themselves unable to sustain the patronage with the loss of influence and wealth due to the advance of English power. Their patronage dried up sometime aound the mid-nineteenth century, thus leading to a halt in the movement. These were duly succeeded by paintings in oil for the more wealthy and in water for the commoner.

When a society is confronted with new and alien influences, ting changes take place in its cultural traditions. In colonial India of the nineteenth century, such changes were rapid and disorienting, especially in the world of art, and that of artists and One may bemoan the drying up of the stream of the Tradition of art due to the political, and socio-economic impost of foreign conquest, but as Milton Singer has written, in India the Great and 'Little Traditions' interact freely. It is thus possible for one to draw sustenance from the other. The 'Little Tradition kept alive the art of the people in its many variations There was enough vitality and activity amongst folk and popular artists, which gave them the ability to adapt and change. A variety of new hybrid art forms developed as a response to new demands and to a different urban milieu. Very little scholarly attention has been paid to them. In general they were short-lived, disappearing due to the advent of modern technology like printing or the camera. Yet in the brief periods of their popularity, they presented fascinating evidence of society in change, and of artists deftly adapting to new techniques, aesthetics and economic demands, sometimes challenging the new order with wit and satire as the Kalighat Patuas did.

For those of us who grew into our teens in the mid-fifties of this century, it was still possible to find examples of nineteenth century popular art quite easily. May be we did not value them as we should have. Glass paintings were still available in many homes as holy pictures in Puja rooms. Today of course, those that can be found, are valued as collector's items. It has been therefore a pleasure to find and record the hitherto unpublished paintings in the Bharat Itihas Samshodhak Mandal, Sadashiv Peth, Pune, Maharashtra.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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