Nobleman in Open Durbar

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Size: 18.5 x 23 inches (framed)
Medium: Ink on Paper
Condition: Good; Light Fold Marks
Style: Dhundhar School (Alwar or Uniara)


This is an extremely rare drawing made with ink on paper. It depicts a nobleman (possibly from Alwar or Uniara) in open Durbar. In the courtyard around him are his 'sirdars' below the tree. They are being entertained by singers and female musicians. The nobleman sits on the left side against bolsters, with an attendant behind fanning him with peacock feathers. At the bottom right of the picture are charpoy string beds. Their rolled mattresses are painted with touches of colour. Four matchlock guns lean against a wall. The artwork measures 13 x 18 inches. With the mount and frame, the size is 18.5 x 23 inches.

History and Background
Alwar is located at the foothills of the Aravalli hills. It is a historical city of forts and palaces and is known as 'The Tiger Gateway to Rajasthan'. Uniara is in the Tonk district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Both the regions of Alwar and Uniara are included under the Dhundar School of painting. Dhundar is a historical region of Rajasthan state in western India. It includes the districts of Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur and Tonk. In ancient times, the regions in and around Jaipur were known as Dhundar. Most parts of Alwar, Jaipur, and Shekhawati are still called Dhundar Pradesh.
As well as the emerging Vaishnavite subjects, painters from this school also painted durbar scenes and historic moments; hunting expeditions, wars and victories; picnics, garden parties, dance and music performances; rituals, festivals and wedding processions; portraits of kings, courtiers and their families; city views; birds and animals.
Rao Raja Pratap Singh (1756-1790), made the independent kingdom of Alwar after conquering parts of Bharatpur and Jaipur. In 1770. he built a strong fortress there and made it his capital. About this time, two artists named Dhalu Ram and Shiv Kumar migrated to Alwar from Jaipur. They presented some of their artistic works to the Maharaja. Shiv Kumar is believed to have returned to Jaipur, but Dhalu Ram was appointed in charge of the state museum. The beautiful frescoes in the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of glass) of Rajgarh fort were probably painted under Dhalu Ram's supervision, and include paintings relating to the royal courts.
Uniara had an important school of painting in the 18th century that was an offshoot of the Bundi School. Prominent painters, who served under the ruler Sirdar Singh, included Dhano and Mira Bagas (Mir Baksh).