Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills (A Survey and History of Pahari Miniature Paintings)by W. G. Archer

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Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills (A Survey and History of Pahari Miniature Paintings)by W. G. ArcherReview by: Milo Cleveland BeachThe Art Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Dec., 1974), pp. 592-594Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: .Accessed: 14/06/2014 03:00Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact .College Art Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The ArtBulletin. This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 03:00:43 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Reviews W. G. ARCHER, Indian Paintingsfrom the Punjab Hills (A Survey and History ofPahari Miniature Paintings), London and New York, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, 1973. Vol. I : pp. 480o; Vol. 2: 935 ills. $84 This is an awesomely informative and thorough study of painting in the pahari or hill regions of northwest India; specifically, in the thirty-five Rajput (Hindu) states that comprise what was once popularly termed "the Punjab Hills." Bordering Kashmir and the Himalayas, the territory is still remote and difficult of access. In addition, its cooler climate, varied topography, and proximity to non-Indian (particularly Tibetan and Central Asian) peoples and cultures have always made the arts of the area different from those of the subcontinent proper. Pahari paintings were the first Indian "miniatures" (a term commonly accepted, but not always justified by either the tech- nique or the size of the works) to become popular in the West, largely through the writings and collections of both the late Anan- da Coomaraswamy, early in this century, and William G. Archer, the author of the present volumes. Archer served in the Indian Civil Service for sixteen years, after which (in 1949) he became Keeper of the Indian Section at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, of which he is presently Keeper Emeritus. While he has written on many areas of Indian art and culture, pahari painting has always been his chief interest, and even without the present publication, his writings in this field know no rival. The present book is no mere re-hash of old theories and publications, however, but an encyclopedic survey that discusses new as well as familiar material, and presents frequently revised conclusions and eval- uations. While it will be indispensable to any further serious re- search on the subject, the author clearly recognizes that despite the staggering amount of information that he has assembled for us to draw upon for the basic task of dating and attributing paint- ings to specific states, patrons, or artists, the role of the work is to provoke and encourage further inquiries as much as to propose final solutions. After a brief and sensitive introduction, which discusses subject matter and cultural background, the relation of painter to patron, the evolution of Western understanding of the works, and the difficulties facing the art historian, the author organizes the material around each of the thirty-five states, presented alpha- betically and including even those for which no present evidence of interest in painting exists. The information Archer draws upon is wide-ranging, but seldom irrelevant; and it is laid out method- ically by numbered sections, so that one can easily compare, for example, the religious affiliations of the rajas of Basohli with those of Kulu, to choose two place names at random. Since religious texts are the basis for the majority of the illustrations, the particu- lar religious enthusiasms of the various rulers, when reflected in subject matter, become potentially important sources for identi- fying provenance. As well, geographic characteristics of each state are described, and often highly entertaining nineteenth-century accounts of local scenery and customs are frequently quoted. Such information helps to place the paintings in an inclusive cultural context that serves to make this study useful well beyond its seem- ingly art-historical focus; it is, in addition, a study of the coming to the hills of the ardent sects of Vaishnavism ( a branch of Hindu- ism concentrating on often ecstatic personal devotion to various forms of the god Vishnu) and a chronicle of Western contact with, and interpretation of, India and Indian art. For each state, the foregoing information is placed in an intro- duction, and this is followed by "Historical Notes." Here the history of the state is recounted, reign by reign, and known por- traits of each ruler are listed, followed by a consideration of the conclusions that can therefore be drawn in regard to the develop- ment of painting in that specific territory. The third section is a carefully cross-referenced critical bibliography of all books and articles that relate to, or are specifically concerned with, painting in the state; as an exhaustive survey of all previous writings on pahari painting it is particularly useful, considering the difficulty of obtaining many of these early publications. The concluding fourth section is the author's final reconstruction of painting in the state concerned, together with a comprehensive catalogue of known works that can be so attributed. Each painting is described, discussed, and carefully related to other works. Most helpfully, the more than nine hundred paintings catalogued are well repro- duced in a second volume of black-and-white plates (and each volume has a color frontispiece). The nucleus of the catalogue is the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, for which Archer has been himself so largely responsible, and which is here catalogued in its entirety. This is not simply a one museum cata- logue, however, for many other works, in both public and private collections, are given equal prominence. Archer's method of organization of this vast amount of material alphabetically by state was not chosen arbitrarily. "Court art- ists," the author contends in his introduction, "might be recruited from other states, but in most cases they were drawn from local families. The norm for the master-artist ... was to remain attached to one court for most of his life." And painting at each court is seen as possessing a local flavor that makes works executed there distinct from those anywhere else. The evidence for these asser- tions, however true though they may be, is not immediately clear, for Archer himself notes that among the hordes of pahari pictures available for study, only twenty-six at most bear inscriptions giving the name of the painter, patron, and/or date, and very few state the place of execution. In addition, little attempt has been made anywhere to relate groups of works convincingly to the same specific artist (even without associating such a group with a name) on the basis of visual characteristics. Therefore, it seems that the assertion of the centrality of the court to the definition of style can only be proved by the strength of the attributions Archer argues; it should not be taken as the basis for attribution. Indeed, the situation in regard to pahari pictures is very different from that of the Rajput schools of Rajasthan, in the desert regions to the south, where signed, dated, and otherwise inscribed material abounds. This is a contrast that cannot yet be successfully explained. It may well have to do with different attitudes toward artistic personality and individuality in the two regions, but these are interests the importance of which we have only begun to recognize. In any case, to be more specific, inscribed paintings tell us that Rajasthani painters (especially at minor, not particularly wealthy or important courts) did tend to move around. A certain Mira Bagas, for example, trained at Bundi, took up residence at Uniara in the mid-eighteenth century; when he died, his place as court artist was taken by a painter trained at Jaipur, and the works of the two are so different that it is virtually meaningless to discuss an Uniara style. Indeed, without contemporary inscriptions on the works themselves, we would simply assume that these were Bundi and Jaipur paintings, and our understanding of the sources of styles would be significantly off the mark. The situation is re- peated by the artist Kavala, who studied and painted at Devgarh with his father, Bagta, but then moved to nearby Badnor, con- tinuing to paint there in the same manner. To assume, therefore, that each court had a specific unique style demands for each a self-contained workshop of several painters sharing a common and distinctive outlook; otherwise we are dealing with individual, not This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 03:00:43 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions REVIEWS 593 regional, styles. For many major Rajasthani courts, this com- munality was indeed the case; but minor courts often employed only a single painter (as at Devgarh), or else took on whatever artists they could, whenever they were available (as at Uniara). In the latter circumstance, there was little way for a consistent or unique local style to develop, and it therefore becomes impossible to view local stylistic traits as of primary importance. Moreover, in some cases, painters may well have been independant of sus- tained patronage, taking commissions from whomever they were offered; we know of Mughal painters who worked in this manner. If, therefore, the situation in the hills is truly as different as Archer's method assumes, then the situation must be carefully explained and documented. It should be pointed out, too, that within several of the groups of pictures attributed by the author to particular hill states, there are sudden, violent shifts of style that seem to contradict, or at least confuse, the author's assertion of consistent local characteristics. It therefore seems that Archer is relying on a highly intuitive, personal sense for the definition of styles - and few people are as sensitive as he to the nuances of each work - that both belies and compliments the scientific, objective format of the book. In recent years, through the researches of B. N. Goswamy, the most outstanding among the younger generation of Indian schol- ars of Indian painting, an alternative system of classification of pahari works has been proposed, based on the family allegiance of the artist (painters being a caste group, usually, sons learning the profession from their fathers), rather than the actual provenance of execution. In the eighteenth century, painting in the Punjab Hills is dominated by the descendants of Pandit Seu of the state of Guler, and these artists are known to have worked at many differ- ent courts, throughout the area, and to have occasionally changed residence and patron. This immediately places in question the statement that "in most cases ... [painters] were drawn from local families," for Pandit Seu's offspring constantly refer to themselves as "of Guler," no matter where they were living at any particular time. Far more significantly, Goswamy believes that the styles of any two members of Pandit Seu's family working contempora- neously at different courts tend to have more in common than the styles of two painters from different families at the same court. Goswamy's argument has been as carefully worked out as has Archer's, although it is not yet nearly so well documented in print. I do not mean to suggest that this is necessarily a superior pro- cedure, only to point it out as an alternate. Each method illumi- nates important elements of the working of style in pahari painting. One further aspect of Goswamy's researches that is worth men- tioning, and that bears upon much previous work in the area, is the sources upon which he has been able to draw for his recon- struction of the genealogies of painters' families, for he has exten- sively examined records in the possession of family priests at major shrine centers in India, documents out-of-bounds to most Indians and all Westerners. Such records, together with palace inventories, payroll records, and historical diaries still in the collections of the descendants of the former ruling chiefs, will eventually provide the type of explicit documentation that we need so decidedly for further study of these works Yet it is very doubtful that such records will ever be made readily accessible to Western scholars, who are justifiably viewed with suspicion by orthodox elements of Hindu society. The Western student of Indian painting necessarily works at a disadvantage in this regard. For most readers, the major interest of the study will not be such information as that given in the arguments defending the attribution of paintings to such "new" courts as Bhoti or Datarpur (among others), but the reconsideration of such long-standing and unresolved questions as precisely when, where, and how painting began in the hills, or how one defines and recognizes works from such familiar states as Basohli, Guler, Jammu, and Kangra. Yet here, despite the fact that this is the most meticulously researched and painstakingly constructed study ever published on Indian painting, we continue to be frustrated by the lack of cold, hard evidence to corroborate visual judgments. Painting seems to have begun in the hills in the mid-seventeenth century, with works of an already distinctive and highly sophisti- cated artistic outlook for which a phase of development must have existed for which no evidence has appeared or been recognized. Archer rightly notes its basic kinship to pre-Mughal (early six- teenth-century) Rajput painting in Rajasthan (and therefore, we might add, to pan-Indian folk-level traditions generally as well), although specific historical or visual evidence of contacts is un- known. This is not a problem, however. We do know that Raj- asthan somehow acted as a catalyst for painting in another hill area, Nepal, in the mid-seventeenth century; an Astasahasrika Prajna-paramita Ms in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, executed in 1682, demands mid-seventeenth-century Mewar (Udaipur) as an exact source for its style, and it is probable that a similar situation occurred to the west in the Punjab region. The earliest pahari style is related to the court at Basohli by a Rasamanjari series with an inscription giving that state as its provenance, and 1694-95 as date. But few works are so precisely documented, and the next major set attributed to Basohli by Archer is a set for which we have the date and the names of the patron and artist, but not the place of execution. The set in question is the Gita Govinda of 1730, one of the most famous and discussed pahari series. The colophon noted that it was made by a painter named Manaku, whom we now know to have been a son of Pandit Seu, and who is referred to in other later inscriptions as "Manaku of Guler." Indeed, the differ- ences that exist between the paintings in this set and those of the earlier Rasamanjari seem far greater than the distinctions that Archer so sensitively evokes elsewhere to differentiate painting from different courts. The Gita Govinda illustrations, and those in a closely related Bhagavata Purana also attributed by Archer to Basohli, seem visually to accord far more closely with painting of universally accepted Guler origin. Visual evidence needs to be carefully interpreted, however, and we regret that there is not space here to examine and discuss at far greater length many of Archer's attributions. There are several enormously important paintings published here for the first time, among the most interesting of which is a series of early (late seventeenth-century, according to Archer) portraits from Guler. These are works the reviewer has not seen personally, but assuming as we do that the author's date is correct, they seem to indicate conclusively that early pahari painting (like Rajasthani works) evolved from two quite distinct sources: one a pre-Mughal tradition, which developed into the inscribed Basohli Rasamanjari of I694-95, the second a Mughal offshoot that de- mands no direct pahari (or Basohli) precursors. This latter, repre- sented by the early Guler style, leads directly into the well-known works connected with Pandit Seu's family, a style which even- tually came to dominate the hills, altering and supplanting the Basohli manner. There is no reason to doubt that Mughal example was behind the alteration of taste that we note as the basis for change in the pahari (as in the Rajasthani) styles. And Archer amusingly notes that the Delhi court acted rather as a club, where nobles of sufficient rank from all over the Mughal domains could meet, exchange ideas, and keep abreast of the latest fashionable ideas. Another hitherto ignored point that Archer stresses is that there was a certain amount of direct contact between Rajasthan and the hills, and he notes in particular a late series of paintings in Jaipur style from Baghal. With increased probing in this area, it may be possible to point out specific visual relations that suggest areas for further research. Works from several hill courts at the end of the seventeenth century bear close analogy to paintings often attri- buted to Ajmer, a Mughal stronghold in Rajasthan, and a prob- able seat of sub-imperial Mughal styles of painting. Such works as that reproduced in the Nurpur group as figure 5, for example, by its format, color, and drawing is close to works thought to be distinctive of Sawar, and perhaps other small Rajput territories in Ajmer state. Whether these schools had direct contact with the hills, or whether both were affected by a major complex not yet isolated, is merely one of the myriad inquiries which the book provokes. In conclusion - and it is almost flippant to review so briefly a book as highly organized and intensely argued as Indian Paintings from the Punjab Hills - we might state that as an attempt to estab- This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 03:00:43 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions THE ART BULLETIN lish historical relationships within a particularly difficult and controversial group of paintings, this is a concise, highly convinc- ing study. Of greater value, to those not among the very few special- ists primarily interested in the attributions, is Archer's unfailing ability to see the paintings in their cultural and social context, and to evoke for us, with great sympathy, the world of the pahari Rajput. As well, his prose so clearly articulates the richness of his own response to the pictures themselves that our understanding is in turn further heightened. This is a book that demands, and repays, the closest examination. MILO CLEVELAND BEACH Williams College THURI LORENZ, Polyklet, Weisbaden, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1972. Pp. 90; 32 pls. + 71 ills., 4 figs. Thuri Lorenz is one of those brave scholars who have undertaken the subtle and difficult task of dating the Roman copies of Greek works of art within the stylistic development of Roman art, and, more generally, of explaining them as Roman phenomena, an essential new line of inquiry that will help our understanding of both Roman and Greek art. In 1965 he published Galerein von griechischen Philosophen- und Dichterbildnissen bei den R6mern, and in I966, Polyklet, Doryphoros, the latter in the same year as Hans Lauter's Zur Chronologie r6mischer Kopien nach Originalen des 5. Jh. In part, in the present book, Lorenz continues in this vein. He begins with a number of astute and significant observations. The Romans, he says, adapted copies of Classical Greek works into their own environment together with post-Classical works, put them into new settings, and gave them new meanings. The literary sources that deal with Greek art are no less Roman, and even when they quote from older sources, the quotations are set, like the copies, into new contexts. Most characteristically, the Romans used such copies in multiple juxtaposition with other statues from many sources, set within the niches or arches or between the columns of a screen architecture, where all but one view of them was cut off, and where they were subordinated to the exigencies of a total pattern, either programmatic (as in the Galerien referred to above) or decorative. Think, then, he continues, what adjustments the Roman copyist may have made to serve new ends, and take note that scholars, from Winckelmann on, have unwittingly tended to accept the limits of Roman installation and to describe these statues as seen from a single, fixed point of view. His own aim, Lorenz says, is first to establish the Roman Polykleitos and then to try to isolate the Greek Polykleitos. He emphasizes the Doryphoros because that is Polykleitos' most influential work. Checking out the limited number of Doryphoros copies whose provenance is known, he finds that most were connected with theaters or amphitheaters; one herm was in the Galerie of the Villa Suburbana of Herculaneum, and even the famous statue that stood alone in a small court of the palestra of Pompeii apparently was placed between two columns of the peristyle. The most in- sistent lesson he draws from this view of a particular series is the same as the one he observes in general - that Roman presentation and later scholarly consideration stressed a fixed, frontal view of the statue - and he counters by devoting several pages to a detailed description of the Doryphoros in three-dimensional terms, a description that is interesting and valid, and adds dimension to our understanding of the composition. Having examined the Roman copies to that extent, Lorenz then turns to the Greek Polykleitos, and proceeds to make deductions that seem, to this enthusiast of his premises and procedures so far, to be less enlightening and conclusive. When dealing with the Romans, he is factual and informative, making direct observations and immediate deductions from the observations. When dealing with the Greeks, he slips back into traditional habits, both in rela- tion to the problems undertaken and the answers given. Then, like a good schoolman, he makes large generalizations and imposes abstract idea-patterns, in depersonalized terms, which easily be- come diffused into subjective and arbitrary word-play. It is largely in such terms that he discusses Polykleitos' historic contribution of the integrally interrelated balance that goes with the stance "on one foot" (Pliny's phrase), the relation of the bulky torso to the stance, and the sequence of development that led up to Polykleitos' contribution. He does contribute his own three-dimensional ob- servations throughout. Then, with the help of those observations, he offers to settle the venerable question whether the Doryphoros walks or stands. Having noted how the spine bends and the shoulders thrust backward, he asserts categorically, "He stands." Why, then, does he seem to walk when seen from the front ? Lorenz says, so that the viewer is forced to move around the statue in order to resolve his doubt about the stance. That, it seems to me, is an idea that sounds more like a German scholar's than a Greek artist's. Also, it is an idea that stirs up new questions, such as: why doesn't the viewer just stay in front, where he could go right on happily thinking that the Doryphoros is walking? Or: isn't it a rude shock to the viewer, when he completes his circuit and returns to the front, to find that the Doryphoros is still walking? Perhaps the practices of Roman copyists have another answer to yield. This discussion ends on page 17, and it is not until page 64 that Lorenz takes up the Roman theme again, and the Doryphoros. He resumes the question of Roman attitudes toward the copying and imitation of Greek art, and specifically of the Doryphoros, quoting Pliny the Elder, Quintilian, Cicero, and Pliny the Young- er to good purpose, and concluding that the Romans saw the copy as separate from the orignal, and as an art object within its own time; for this reason the copyists could put their signatures on the work, and the style of the time could leave its mark relatively clearly on the copy. Then, having proved the feasibility of doing this, he proceeds to the problem of dating a sequence of Roman copies of the Doryphoros. He and Lauter, he says, have previously dealt with heads in this respect, using parallels with Roman por- traiture. Now he takes the further step of dealing with torsos, and he does so in ways that are productive and informative, whatever one may think of the details of any specific deduction. By compari- son with datable Roman figures he assigns a series of twelve tor- sos and statues to time sequences from the first half of the first century B.C. to the second half of the second century A.D., and he concludes the series, with sophisticated insights, by explaining the bronze pastiche-reconstruction of the Doryphoros that was made for the Munich Museum in terms of the academic classicism of the 1920's. In addition to making more precise observations, he summarizes the large line of stylistic development in terms of a change from the plastisch to the zeichnerisch, which goes from the Pompeiian image of the early first century B.C. to the Villa Pamfili torso of the Trajanic period, and then with an infusion of the optisch, from the time of Hadrian. Simplification of forms sets in as early as the Trajanic torso. In the mid-second century A.D., a light, almost dancing effect enters the copies, as it does the im- perial portraits, and at about the same time a heroic hunter figure, perhaps of Skopasian derivation, supplants Polykleitan types as the basic formula for the nude portrait. In his "Final Remarks," he first returns to the quartet of Roman writers listed above, to examine further their ideas about copying, and to answer yes to the question whether the copyist was con- scious of the differences he was injecting into the prototype. Then he ends with large generalizations about Polykleitos, his place in history, and the "Aufl6sung der Frontalitiit" throughout antiquity. Within this section he makes the interesting observation that the direct influence of Polykleitos' balanced stance was very limited in the fifth century, both within his own school and among the Athenians, who clung to the Severe Style formula for a generation after mid-century and then fundamentally found their own way to a more coordinated balance. Between pages i7 and 64, Thuri Lorenz writes as though he had never read Thuri Lorenz. In these pages he plays the old-fashioned attributions game and performs the traditional go-around on all the prescribed Polykleitan problems. He often, though not always, offers descriptions in his own three-dimensional terms. But in general he dismisses the Roman problems early. He brings the old pawns out of the old cupboard, and he moves them around the old gaming board from this square to that, checking out some of the classic gambits of Furtwiingler and Anti, as well as a few more This content downloaded from on Sat, 14 Jun 2014 03:00:43 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Contentsp. [592]p. 593p. 594Issue Table of ContentsThe Art Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 4 (Dec., 1974), pp. 472-634Volume Information [pp. 629-634]Front MatterThe Vapheio Cups: One Minoan and One Mycenean? [pp. 472-487]Vulpes Fossa Habent or the Miracle of the Bent Woman in the Gospels of St. Augustine, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, ms 286 [pp. 488-504]The Influence of English Decorated Style on the Continent: Saint James in Toru and Lincoln Cathedral [pp. 505-516]The Rucellai Palace: Some New Proposals [pp. 517-529]Savoldo and Northern Art [pp. 530-534]Chance and Coincidence in Titian's Diana and Actaeon [pp. 535-550]Two Statues by Bernini in Morristown, New Jersey [pp. 551-554]Le Sueur's Decorations for the Cabinet des Muses in the Htel Lambert [pp. 555-570]Rembrandt's Tree Stump: An Iconographic Attribute of St. Jerome [pp. 571-580]New Light on Seurat's "Dot": Its Relation to Photo-Mechanical Color Printing in France in the 1880's [pp. 581-589]Addenda to "Divine Inspiration" [pp. 590-591]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 592-594]Review: untitled [pp. 594-595]Review: untitled [pp. 595-596]Review: untitled [pp. 596-598]Review: untitled [pp. 598-599]Review: untitled [pp. 599-601]Review: untitled [pp. 601-602]Review: untitled [pp. 603-604]Review: untitled [pp. 604-605]Review: untitled [pp. 605-607]Review: untitled [pp. 607-609]Review: untitled [pp. 609-610]Review: untitled [pp. 611-613]Review: untitled [pp. 613-614]Review: untitled [pp. 614-615]Review: untitled [pp. 615-616]Review: untitled [pp. 616-617]Review: untitled [pp. 617-619]Review: untitled [pp. 619-620]Review: untitled [pp. 620-622]Review: untitled [pp. 622-624]Errata: Drer's "Raphael" Drawing Reconsidered [p. 625]Letters to the Editor [pp. 625-626]List of Books Received [pp. 627-628]Back Matter


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