I spent Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a #MetWalk tour with the Met’s Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan, the Met’s Exhibition Designer Daniel Kershaw and the Met’s Media Lab Manager Marco Antonio Castro Cosio. Special thanks for the sneak peek of Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—The Kronos Collections, now on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 12, 2016.
Created mainly between the 16th and the early 19th century for the royal courts of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills in northern India, the nearly 100 paintings on view feature compelling episodes from the epic and poetic literature of the Indian subcontinent, that are meant to move the soul and delight the eye.
Suffused with the powerful imagery of the myths of the past, Indian painting expressed a new way of seeking the divine through bhakti, or personal devotion. The collection was assembled over nearly four decades by Mr. Kossak, formerly a curator in The Met’s Department of Asian Art, and the paintings are a 2015 promised gift by Steven M. Kossak from his family’s Kronos Collections.
“We are delighted to present this exhibition of Steve Kossak’s generous promised gift,” said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Met. “These distinguished paintings constitute one of the premier collections of this material in private hands, and their eventual addition to The Met collection will transform the Museum’s holdings of Rajput painting. It is a significant addition to Steve’s legacy at The Met after serving for two decades as a curator.”
The exhibition is organized into three major sections—Early Rajput and Rajasthan, early Pahari (Punjab Hills), and later Pahari. Within each room, the paintings are shown in relation to the literary traditions of Indian Hinduism. Rajput court painting was mainly intended for royal delectation, to amplify through the artistic fantasy manifest in the pictures, well-known religious, quasi-religious, and secular texts and subjects. The power and magic of the images transcends the subjects they portray.
Under the patronage of their Rajput rulers, many of the principalities of north India developed and nurtured a distinctive painting style. This galaxy of stylistic expression is evident in the compelling examples of the Early Rajput Style; the later schools of Bikaner, Bundi, Kishangarh, Kota, and Mewar; as well as many of the small courts of the Punjab Hills: Bahu, Bahsoli, Bislalpur, Chamba, Guler, Kangra, Mandi, Mankot, and Nurpur.
Painted on paper in opaque watercolor and ink, they are often heightened with gold and silver. Whites are often raised to simulate pearls and reflective beetle-wing casings stand in for emeralds. Many of the paintings have never before been exhibited publicly.
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Floor 2, The Charles Z. Offin Gallery,
Karen B. Cohen Gallery, Harriette and Noel Levine Gallery, Galleries 691–693
The exhibition was organized by Navina Haidar, Curator, and Courtney Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, of The Met’s Department of Islamic Art. Exhibition design is by Daniel Kershaw, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Constance Norkin, Graphic Design Manager; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Museum’s Design Department.
Related Publication and Programs
The exhibition is accompanied by a publication written by Terence McInerney, with contributions by Mr. Kossak and Ms. Haidar. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, it is available in The Met Store.
The catalogue is made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.
Education programs include a series of exhibition tours and a MetFridays program on July 22 that will focus on the power of objects, large and small.
The exhibition is featured on The Met website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via the hashtag #DivinePleasures.
The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.
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Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.