Udaipur paintings will be on display at the Smithsonian for the first time

Members of Mewar Royal family, Maharaj Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar and his sister Princess Padmaja Kumari Parmar on November 18, 2022 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Washington DC: In an ongoing effort to promote India’s cultural heritage in the United States, for the first time ever, an exhibition titled, “A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur,” with exclusive paintings from Udaipur in Rajasthan will be showcased in the

Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art here from November 2022 to May 2023.

At a reception in India House on November 18th, Indian Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Sandhu said, “It’s a wonderful time, and just the right time to have this fine painting exhibition in Washington DC… a few months back in DC, we had the GW textile museum exhibition to celebrate 1000 years of Indian textiles. That’s the history we represent.”

Sandhu added “The paintings tell us how the artists conveyed emotions, depicted places, celebrated resources, and fostered personal bonds over some 200 years ago. It’s a reflection of the rapidly changing political and social landscape of its time.”

Members of Mewar Royal family, Maharaj Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, his sister Princess Padmaja Kumari Parmar along with her husband Rajkumar Kush Parmar of Santrampur were the honored invitees at the reception.

During his address, Lakshyaraj Singh recounted being asked how he felt about his familial paintings on display, and clarified, “I really want to say with utmost sincerity and utmost honesty, that these are really not our paintings. These really belong to people of the world who really admire and love art. People who love to live life. Yes, we are custodians of these paintings, and we are blessed to be custodians of these paintings.”

“It is a matter of great honor for us that these paintings have been worthy enough to be put up here at the Smithsonian. So, thank you, once again, for putting this up here, and sharing it with the rest of the world,” Lakshyaraj Singh added while conveying his gratitude.

Director of Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries, Chase Robinson noted, “So we kick off our 100th anniversary [of the Smithsonian Institution] and we join with our colleagues in the Embassy in celebrating the 75th anniversary of India’s independence,” which he felt truly commemorates the Indo-US collaboration.

Indian Ambassador to the United States, Taranjit Sandhu addressing the gathering on November 18, 2022 at India House in Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

He also said a sister exhibition, on Stillwaters Contemporary Photography, from India, will be open from December 10th. “Both [events] touch on cultural attitudes towards water and natural resource management,” he informed.

Clearly excited that India will be represented at the first exhibition in the Smithsonian’s centennial year, Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South and Southeast Asian Art, Debra Diamond, told News India Times, “These paintings depict the mood, memory, ambiance, and emotion of what it felt like to be in particular places at particular times. These paintings are huge. They are five feet across so immersive and experiential.”

Diamond explained that the exhibit has a soundscape, created by Amit Dutta, a noted filmmaker from Himachal Pradesh in India. “He created ambient sounds in each gallery. So, it’s like a journey that you walk through from the lakes and palaces into the city…the sounds change as you go from place to place.”

She said these paintings are on loan from the Royal Collection in Udaipur – Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation and the City Palace Museum, as well as galleries in London, Australia, Zurich, and the United States.

According to Diamond many of these paintings have never been publicly exhibited, and some of them have never been published. These paintings are total surprises. To bring these paintings, the City Palace Museum with the help of the Smithsonian created a world class painting conservation studio with three full time conservators and two senior advisors to work on these paintings. As such, they spent two years just conserving the paintings to get them ready to travel to the United States.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here