The exhibition Rajput: Sons of Kings presents approximately 80 paintings and drawings depicting Rajput courtly life from the 17th to the19th centuries, displayed for the first time in over 20 years at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Created in the princely states of Rajasthan, the paintings encapsulate the vitality and sensuality of life at the Maharana's court. Many of the paintings in the collection were created in Udaipur, the centre of Mewar, which was the last of the Rajput kingdoms to fall under the dominance of the Mughal empire in 1615.
The exhibition explores the secular court paintings through several main themes – portraiture, the hunt and other leisurely pursuits, religion, the role of women, romance and politics. Central to the pageantry is the figure of the Maharana, portrayed as supreme warrior and hunter, patron of art, music and dance. The exhibition explores the role of the Maharana as depicted in these paintings which present a window into a cultural world that no longer exists, although the physical environment of palaces and lakes survives.
The exhibition presents examples of stylistic variations between paintings from different Rajput courts, as well as works by several artists such as Tara and Bakhta.