India Thakur Suratsinghji, 1725 - names over heads - immortality promised them
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Thakur Suratsinghji, Southern Rajastan, 1725
What is image annotation?
Style of writing names over heads of important persons is very similar as in ancient Greece or Orthodox Christianity icons
Related to this picture is my favorite quote in the history of art:
Akbar was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from the time of his accession in 1556 until 1605. He is widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors.
It is sometimes suggested that prior to the Mughals there was no tradition of portraits in India. This of course is unacceptable, but what is true is that due largely to Akbar's desire to recognize those portrayed and the introduction of European portraits, Mughal artists developed a tradition of portrait painting that was a curious admixture of fact and fancy.
While the faces of the sitters were rendered with remarkable accuracy and expressiveness, the rest of the picture, including even the figure, especially of grandees and nobles, often followed certain established conventions that were meant to proclaim the stature of the dignitary.
That Akbar himself was directly responsible in encouraging his artists to draw faithful likenesses is evident from the following observation of Abul Fazal:
"His Majesty himself sat for his likeness, and also ordered to have the likenesses taken of all the grandees of the realm. An immense album was thus formed: those that have passed away have received a new life, and those who are still alive have immortality promised them."
(Source: Court Paintings of India 16th-19th Centuries by Pratapaditya Pal)