The Paintings Of North India - Part II
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The lack of princely powers in the Gangetic plain meant that in these recent centuries, there has not been a central powerful system of patronage for the development of a north Indian and Hindu painting school. In this respect, the situation in western India has been different.

Only in the hill-states of north-western India, such as Basohli, Guler and Kangra did non-Islamic painting continue at a courtly level. The tradition is collectively known as the Pahari, or Punjab hills, painting.

As courtly life at the Mughal capitals decayed throughout the eighteenth century, painters were increasingly left without patronage. Consequently, artists began to move away from the great city courts, to the small, mostly Hindu, highland courts of the north-western foothills.

In these regions Islam had never deeply penetrated. The refugee artists brought with them great technical skill which, married to the rigour and exciting colour sense of the local taste, produced a magnificent flowering of the courtly Hindu painting during the late 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.

The earliest example are from the courts such as Basohli. While different from the early Rajput style of western India, they are clearly close to it, given the striking psychological use of colours and the lack of interest in perspective which is seen in both styles. Devi is frequently the subject of the Basohli paintings.

In contrast, the later Pahari paintings, for instance from the court at Kangra, are much more svelte; the throbbing vitalities of the earlier painting are now subdued. There is a greater interest in perspective, doubtless brought about through the acceptance of Mughal techniques which in turn had come into Indian paintings from the European paintings and prints.

The royal patrons encouraged the production of series of paintings to illustrate texts such as the Ramayana, and the Krishna-lila, as well as individual scenes such as Shiva with his family on Mount Kailasha.

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