Fascinating yet comparatively unknown, reverse glass paintings flourished in the mid-19th century. Created by Chinese and Indian artists, these exotic paintings in luminous colours were much favoured by royal patrons, and also by landowners and city merchants in colonial India.
A Family Picnic
A landscape inspired by European postcards, depicts the older and younger generation in a family. The spatial gap between the generations reflects the hierarchical order that ruled family life.
In the famous episode of Bhagavata Purana, Mount Govardhana is shown as a heap of red boulders. On the left, two gopis, a youth , an old bearded gopa wearing the typical blanket on his head and two cattles can be seen. The same arrangement is repeated on the right, with some variations.
A Seated Couple
An elegantly dressed couple sits upon a green velvet settee with their shoulders resting on bolsters. The picture of this couple in their salon reflects the prevailing fashion and elegant lifestyle in South India in the late 19th century.
Krishnaraja Wodeyar III
After the death of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapattana, the British took over large parts of his kindgom. The throne was restored to Wodeyars, and Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, at that time four years old, was crowned as the king.
The painting depicts an elegantly attired and bejewelled musician playing violin. The instrument, which plays such an important part in Indian music, was introduced at the close of the 18th century by the military bands of the East India Company.
An Armenian lady in the traditional costume stands with a rose in her loose hair. Armenians had trade connections with India since the 17th century CE.
View of Macau
Macau was an insignificant settlement which developed as a major trading hub after the arrival of the Portuguese in 1535. This painting depicts a spacious building where the foreign merchants lived and worked.
Dutch Tavern Scene
The man, in a red cap and dark jacket with metal buttons, shakes the hand of a woman, who holds a pipe in her left hand. Her head is covered by a light coloured cloth and her shoulders are swathed in an indigo shawl. These items, imported from India, were extremely fashionable in 18th and 19th century Europe.