Valentines Day: 10 Works Of  Medieval Indian Art Depicting Emotions Of Love

Valentines Day: 10 Works Of Medieval Indian Art Depicting Emotions Of Love

The emotion of love has always been a subject of artistic expression across time and place. Same has been the case with the art of India where this sublime feeling has been timelessly interpreted and depicted spanning antiquity to the contemporary era. With artists of many generations bringing alive the emotion in different styles, forms, mediums, and visual language, a wide oeuvre of Indian art has been there to observe. Miniatures painting from different stylistic schools from across India are the ones where the romantic theme has captured the most attention.

So in celebration of this Valentine’s Day on February 14, here are 10 profound works of medieval Indian art that showcase different shades of love. While the origin and name of the artist in some of the works, they are nonetheless are treasures from the wide and great oeuvre of miniature paintings of India.

Couple on Terrace

This Miniature Painting dated 1780 A.D holding wine cup in left hand & wine bottle in right hand as he embraces his lover. While the artist name has not been identified, the painting comes from the Bilaspur School of Painting and is a part of the collection of Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad.

Princess Receiving A Letter From Prince

This undated Rajasthan School miniature painting shows a prince on a camel as he receives a letter from his lady love standing in the balcony.

Love Scene

This Pahadi style miniature dating 1770 shows a raja and a rani seated on a red floral design carpet as violet color bolster at the back of the Raja and two similar color pillows at the side of the Raja. The artwork is presently a part of Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad.

Dhola and Maru

Depicting the romantic folk lore of Dhola and Maru, the 1810 dated natural color painting is a Jodhpuri style painting that is now in the collection of National Museum, New Delhi. Dhola was a prince of Narwar and Maur was a princess of Poogal as per Rajasthani version of the story. Dhola and Maru got married during their childhood but when Dhola grew up he forgot about his marriage. The story is based on the hurdles which came in the love life of Dhola and Maru. In this painting Dhola and Maru are shown riding on a camel against a green background.

King Dushyanta Disclosing Feelings Of Love For Shakuntala To Madhavya

This 1800s this Pahari School watercolor from Nalagarh shows King Dushyanta seated on green carpet and sharing his feelings of love for Shakuntala to Madhavya, his friend and companion. A part of Abhijnayana Shakuntalam, it is now in the collection of National Museum, New Delhi.

Soni Mahiwal

The record of the Allahabad Museum, of which this late 18th Century work is a part of, suggests that love story of Sohini and Mahiwal seems being depicted in the picture.

Love Sick Princess

The 17th century Mughal miniature painting shows a Princess, is seen lying on a cot. The painting is presently a part of National Museum, New Delhi.

Shirin and Farhad

Depicting the love story of Shirin and Farhad, this 18th century Rajasthan style painting comes from “Khosrow and Shirin”, the famous Persian tragic romance by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141-1209) who also wrote Layla and Majnun. The painting shows Farhad fallen down bleeding from head. Shirin jumped down from the roof of her house to save Farhad. Farhad shown fallen with an axe and his head is bleeding.

Love Letter

This late 18th century Rajasthani miniature painting shows a lady standing under a tree holding its branch with one hand. She is engaged in reading a letter from her lover. It is now in the collection of Allahabad Museum.

As Desire Rises

A folio from Gita Govinda series, this Pahari style watercolor by Manaku of Guler is dated 1730 and is now in the collection of Government Museum And Art Galeery at Chandigarh.
Art Historian B N Goswamy writes about the work in book ‘The Spirit of Indian Painting:
“One has to read his work with care, however, for one could get it wrong. Here, ‘lovers meeting in darkness / embrace and kiss / and claw as desire rises / to dizzying heights of love’. But one needs to understand that it is the inconstancy of Krishna that the poet and the painter are speaking of. It is not the same damsel whom one sees three times in the mode of continuous narration: the one he embraces is different from the one he makes passion”

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