Royal Photographs And Miniature Portraits
Painting in Bikaner followed a course that kept more closely to the Mughal tradition. Muslim artists had settled here during the seventeenth century, and the delicate and highly refined Mughal style that they brought with them dominated Bikaner painting, even when illustrating traditional Hindu texts such as the Bhagavata Purana. Deccani paintings brought back from military service also contributed a distinctive use of colour, As in Jodhpur, painting in Bikaner began to develop a more Rajasthan character during the eighteenth century, although it never acquired the flamboyance or eccentricity of the later Jodhpur portraits’. – John Guy & Deborah Swallow, Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
One of the most peculiar features of Rajasthani Schools of portraiture was that they depicted a personage rather conceptually than realistically. The portraits were more iconographic, showing in details the characteristic features of the person – his moustache, style of turban, manner of clothing or general physiognomy – but the essential depiction was highly stylised.
The portraits of the rulers of Bikaner displayed here were all painted in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and not during their lifetime. In many cases, the same ruler is shown at different stages of his life. Being iconographic, they all appear to have been derived from an idealized stock image of a Bikaner ruler.
Majority of Bikaner painters were Muslim and in all probability belonged to the Usta community, who, even today, are engaged in painting stucco work.