Unknown Artist, Presented to Queen Victoria through Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76 by Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh, Maharaja of Benares, c.1875. Composite Photograph, Royal Collection Trust
Painted photography has long been considered specifically an Indian cultural phenomenon. Focusing on a few major examples such as the painted portrait of the Maharaja of Jaipur Sawai Ram Singh II (c.1875), this talk will explore how Indian rulers mobilised the conventions of Indian miniature painting and colonial photography, using colour and texture to highlight their singular iconography and indigenous significations of leadership, while reinscribing their identity as particular, recognisable and modern through photographic formats. Conversely, it will discuss the Maharaja of Banaras, Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh’s attempts at reimagining Queen Victoria’s Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands from 1848 to 1861 (c. 1875) in the Indian vernacular.
Sushma Griffin is a historian and theorist of modern and contemporary art. Her areas of expertise include 19th and 20th-century photography and film of the Global South, specifically South and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on modernism and its contemporary heirs. She received her doctorate in art history from the University of Queensland. Presently, she is a Postdoctoral Fellow (2023-24) at the Yale University Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London. Her publications include a book chapter in Nazar: Vision, Belief, and Perception in Islamic Cultures (Brill, 2021) and articles in Artlines and The Asian Arts Society of Australia Review.
View the entire series here.