Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

A catalogue of the Ashmolean’s collection of Indian art by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield (published Oxford, 1987).

Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

Publications online: 143 objects

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A commotion in the bazaar

  • Literature notes

    Depictions of the daily life of the streets and bazaars are uncommon in Indian paintings before the British period, only occasionally finding a place in the background of some mythological scene with an urban setting. This damaged but lively and enigmatic picture is an exception. It was painted in the Punjab Hills around the middle of the 18th century, when a fresh assimilation of the naturalistic elements of the contemporary Mughal style followed the arrival of artists fleeing the uncertain political conditions of the Plains. It shows some elements of the style practiced by Nainsukh, the best known member of a widely influential family of Pahari artists.

    The artist’s observation of gesture and attitude is keen and revealing. In the centre of the picture a miscreant is being beaten over the head with slippers by two armed officers, while in the foreground another is lead away with hands tied and a slipper held humiliatingly over his head. As always in India, a small crowd gathers to watch the spectacle, while other figures go about their business. To the right, two boys choose sweets at a sweet shop. To the left, a husband buys a knife or jewellery from a display laid out on a cloth. In the foreground, two boys dance to music of a shehnai and drum, while a Kānphata yogi sits tranquilly before a linga shrine to the god Śiva.
  • Details

    Associated place
    AsiaIndianorth-west IndiaPunjab HillsHimachal Pradesh Guler (place of creation)
    Date
    1750 - 1760
    Artist/maker
    possibly school of Nainsukh (c. 1710 - 1778) (artist)
    Material and technique
    gouache on paper
    Dimensions
    mount 40.1 x 55.4 cm (height x width)
    painting 20.5 x 29.5 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    1
    Credit line
    Gift of Gerald Reitlinger, 1978.
    Accession no.
    EA1978.2595
  • Further reading

    Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 92 on pp. 82-83, p. xiv, illus. p. 82

    Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 18 July-13 September 1981, and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981, Eastern Ceramics and Other Works of Art from the Collection of Gerald Reitlinger: Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition, Deborah Willis, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), no. 409 on p. 144, illus. p. 144

    Topsfield, Andrew, Indian Paintings from Oxford Collections, Ashmolean Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum in association with the Bodleian Library, 1994), no. 34 on p. 70, p. 7, illus. p. 71

    London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 21 April-22 August 1982, The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, Robert Skelton, ed. (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), cat. np. 161 on p. 64, p. 31

Location

    • currently in research collection

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.

 

Publications online

  • Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum by J. C. Harle and Andrew Topsfield

    Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum

    Depictions of the daily life of the streets and bazaars are uncommon in Indian paintings before the British period, only occasionally finding a place in the background of some mythological scene with an urban setting. This damaged but lively and enigmatic picture is an exception. It was painted in the Punjab Hills around the middle of the 18th century, when a fresh assimilation of the naturalistic elements of the contemporary Mughal style followed the arrival of artists fleeing the uncertain political conditions of the Plains. It shows some elements of the style practiced by Nainsukh, the best known member of a widely influential family of Pahari artists.

    The artist’s observation of gesture and attitude is keen and revealing. In the centre of the picture a miscreant is being beaten over the head with slippers by two armed officers, while in the foreground another is lead away with hands tied and a slipper held humiliatingly over his head. As always in India, a small crowd gathers to watch the spectacle, while other figures go about their business. To the right, two boys choose sweets at a sweet shop. To the left, a husband buys a knife or jewellery from a display laid out on a cloth. In the foreground, two boys dance to music of a shehnai and drum, while a Kānphata yogi sits tranquilly before a linga shrine to the god Śiva.
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