Krishna playing Blindman’s Bluff By Manaku Pahari region, Guler, c. 1750 © The Kronos Collections


Until the 21st of August – Museum Rietberg

800 years of Indian painting, some 240 masterpieces by more than 40 artists – and all this at a glance. Never before in the West has an exhibition offered such a comprehensive overview of the entire history of Indian painting.

Although Indian painters were celebrated as “wonders of their age” by their contemporaries, for a long time very little was known about their lives. There are no Indian equivalents of sources such as Vasari’s biographies of European Renaissance artists. The fact that artistic traditions were shaped within a family, a workshop, or a court, adds to the difficulty of attributing works to individual artists.

Thanks to many years of painstaking research, the deciphering of microscopically small signatures, analyses of pilgrim registers, and, especially, stylistic comparisons, more is now known. For example, about Farrukh Beg, who painted in Iran, in Kabul, Lahore, Bijapur, and Agra, or the brothers Manaku and Nainsukh who, despite their joint training in their father‘s workshop, differ significantly in style.

As exotic as further names such as ‘Abd al-Samad, Kripal and Sahibdin may sound, they all share a great technical refinement, compositional inventiveness and sense of colour. It is not surprising that Rembrandt possessed a collection of Indian miniatures. The great Indian masters are unquestionably the equals of Dürer, Michelangelo or Vermeer. The artworks shown in the Museum Rietberg come from such outstanding collections as the Royal Collection of Windsor Castle, the Golestan Palace in Tehran or the Institute for Oriental Manuscripts in St Petersburg.

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