Lots which are Art Treasures under the Art and Antiquities Act 1972 cannot be exported outside India.
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Acquired by 1977
Ragamala or the "Garland of Ragas" is the visual depiction of the classical Indian musical form of the raga. Each raga belongs to a family: Bhairav, dedicated to Shiva, Malkos, Hindol, Megh, Deepak and Shri. Ragamala paintings bring together poetry and classical music. Each raga's essence is captured and symbolised by a hero or heroine, a colour or a scene, and thus a mood. They also have subsets, identified as family members such as the raginis, or wives of the ragas or their sons, the ragaputras. They thus identify at what time of the year or of the day the musical mode must be played and the deity they are dedicated to.
Whilst Ragamala painting enjoyed much popularity throughout India in the 17th century and 18th century, it is really in the Punjab foothills of the Himalayas, the Pahari region that it flourished. The earliest known Pahari paintings belong to the second half of the 17th century and with time they developed there in the Pahari region a particular lyrical and poetic quality. A.K. Coomaraswamy’s note on Pahari painting is particularly evocative: "Here if never, and nowhere else in the world, are colours used with greater understanding in regard to their emotional aspect. What Chinese art achieved for landscape is accomplished here for human love" (R.K. Tandan, Pahari Ragamala, Bangalore, 1983, p.23). On Basohli painting, B.N. Goswamy writes "there is majesty here, but also [..] a combination of grace and power" (B.N. Goswamy, The Spirit of Indian Painting, London, 2016, p.203).
Rajas from the Hill-states were Rajput princes of the Kshattriya caste. They were active patrons of the arts and commissioned artists to execute these ambitious theatrical series whether to illustrate ragas, love poetry or religious texts. At Basohli, it is Raja Kripal Pal (1678-95) and his son Dhiraj Pal (1695-1725) that encouraged the production of paintings. The earliest securely dated series is the Rasamanjari painted by Devidasa in 1694-95 and dedicated to Kripal Pal. The series had a strong influence on later Basohli painting. Devidasa’s father was probably Kripal ‘of Nurpur’, the master behind the Early Rasamanjari and the Tantric Devi series of which a painting is in the Kronos Collection (Terence McInerney, et al., Divine Pleasures, Painting from India’s Rajput Court, the Kronos Collections, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2016, p.126, cat.no.37). It has been suggested that these early paintings came from Nurpur which lies just across the Ravi river from Basohli but this is speculative.
The following four paintings come from an iconic Pahari series of Ragamala painting attributed to Basohli and dated circa 1700. R. K. Tandan owned most of this series which he acquired from the descendant of a Brahmin court-astrologer at Basohli. Comprising 65 paintings, at least three or four different hands have worked on the set. It is the most extensive known to have survived until these days. According to Karl Khandalavala, the Tandan ragamala "should be dated between A.D. 1707 and A.D. 1715, and this falls squarely into the middle of the reign of Dhiraj Pal... these ragamala paintings display all the characteristics of the early Basohli kalam [as seen in] features such as the use of beetle-wings, the forms of trees and plants.. the architecture, and the presence of a pendant of a particular design worn only by the Basohli rajas" (Tandan, op.cit, p.8). Most subsequent authorities prefer a slightly earlier date of circa 1700.
Although many courts are associated with Pahari paintings, such as Mankot, Nurpur or Mandi, R.K. Tandan notes that "the crowning achievement of Pahari painters is the Basohli style of painting, so-called after a small fortress-town by that name […] immortalized by its painters" (R.K. Tandan, Indian Miniature Painting, 16th through 19th century, Bangalore, 1981, p.73). Khandalavala praises their "unusual beauty" whilst stressing the Tandan ragamala’s influence on later series such as the Kulu ragamala of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (IS.22-1954).
These four paintings from the Tandan Ragamala epitomize Basohli painting of the late 17th and early 18th century. Each of them tells us of a different world: an intimate game of Pachisi, Shiva’s majestic image on Nandi bull, a king being saluted by a white elephant at night. They are evocative windows to a distant past, a golden age of Pahari painting.
Other Tandan Ragamala paintings are found in the following collections:
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum, Mumbai (Ragini Virati of Shri Raga; see Tandan, Pahari Ragamalas, Bangalore, 1983, fig.46)
The National Museum, Delhi
Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
The Himachal State Museum, Shimla
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (Ragaputra Velavala of Bhairava inv. 199.1992;)
Formerly the Ehrenfeld Collection (present whereabouts unknown, Natanarayana Ragaputra, see D. J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures, the Ehrenfeld Collection, New York, 1985, cat.90, pp.188-189)
Cynthia Hazen Polsky Collection (Harsha Ragaputra, see A.(ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings, Arts of India, London, 2004, cat.169, pp.380-381)
Paintings from the Tandan Ragamala have been published in:
A. Krishna (ed.), Chhavi, vol.2, Benares, 1971, fig. 440-445
Painting for the Royal Courts of India, Spink & Son Ltd, London, 1976, fig.149-150 and cover
Fine Oriental Miniatures and Manuscripts, Sotheby’s, London, 10 October 1977, lot 177 (colour plate)
Fine Oriental Miniatures, Manuscripts, Qajar Paintings and Lacquer, Sotheby’s, London, 9 October 1978, lot 320
R. K. Tandan, Indian Miniature Painting, Bangalore, 1982
E. Isacco (dir.), A. L. Dallapiccola (ed.), Krishna, the Divine Lover, Lausanne, 1982, cat.3, p.13
R. K. Tandan, Pahari Ragamalas, Bangalore, 1983
D.J. Ehnbom, Indian Miniatures, the Ehrenfeld Collection, New York, 1985, cat.90, pp.188-189
A. Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings, Arts of India, London, 2004, cat.169, pp.380-381
Indian Miniatures from the Collection of Colonel RK Tandan
Registered Antiquity – Non-Exportable
A. Krishna, Chhavi, vol.2, Benares, 1971, fig. 443
RK Tandan, Indian Miniature Painting 16th through 19th centuries (Bangalore, 1982), Fig.49f
RK Tandan, Pahari Ragamalas, Bangalore, 1983, fig.21