Monday, April 20, 2020



AaaaaaaaaA@@@2@²@@@@@@@@@@WWW The Nainsukh )

 In 2018 and 2019 , I tried to find Nainsukh's work in some art galleries of the US.  I was told this by an official of Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York :

" Nainsukh's work is not on display . We do possess Nainsukh but it is displayed on certain occasions. Nainsukh's work is part of the world  Heritage and consequently priceless."

This is how Nainsukh's work commands respect, price and prized place in Art galleries of the west. Yes Nainsukh of Guler or Jasrota or Basholi ,who remains unknown to the people of his land.
In this painting Nainsukh shows musicians in the court of Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota.Seven musicians are shown playing Turhi or long brass  pipes that used to be popular in hills of northern India. Did Nainsukh intend to convey SARGAM ( Sa to Ne ) of Hindustani classical  music by  presenting seven musicians ?
A Turhi used to be popular musical instrument. A refined version of Turhi could be saxaphone used in West . A Turhi requires air to be blown in from mouth with adequate pressure . And that is why Nainsukh has shown the musicians with puffed cheeks .
  Turhi, Dolak , Dafli and Ektaara are shown in many paintings of Nainsukh.  These instruments were obviously quite popular with royal musicians at that point of time. This painting has been done around 1740 AD when Nainsukh was court artist of Raja Balwant Singh of Jasrota.

This painting  has been in  private collection since being purchased by the prominent British artist Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981) during a tour of India, Burma (Myanmar) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1919-20..

After Nicholson's death, it remained with her family and has now entered a public collection for the first time at the famous London museum.

The Painting was on display at British Museum after being lent under a licence  temporarily by a leading art auctioneer who later decided to auction this master piece . Not willing to lose it, the British Museum authorities sought help from the government, art and heritage societies  and  also raised public donations  to acquire the painting fo £4,40,000/-( roughly 4 crores ).A substantial amount was pooled by  National Heritage Memorial Fund created by government of UK. In January 2020, this news was carried by many art related journals and magazines world over.

About this painting and Nainsukh, British Museum curator Imma Ramos said:.

 "Nainsukh, whose name translates as 'Delight of the Eyes', is one of India's greatest courtly artists, and this outstanding painting showcases his gift for complex composition and precise observation. It was painted at the height of his career while he was working for the ruler of Jasrota, Raja Balwant Singh. Its jewel-like colour, intricate detail and poetic mood suggest it would have been seen up close and studied at leisure, enjoyed privately or among guests. We are delighted that it is now in a public collection for the first time, where it can be enjoyed by visitors for its beauty. The painting as a work unparalleled in north Indian art", has gone on free display in the museum's Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery of China and South Asia. It has been bought with support from the Art Fund, National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Brooke Sewell Permanent Fund.."

About this painting , British Minister of Arts  , Helen Whately said:

"This beautiful work has enormous historical value and will be admired by visitors from around the world as it goes on display at the British Museum. Export bars are put in place to save masterpieces like this one for the nation, and I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone whose generous support made this acquisition possible."

Sir Peter Luff, the chair of the NHMF, said it was a stunning example of Pahari art and trustees had agreed “it was imperative to save The Trumpeters for the nation and keep it on public display so that art enthusiasts and historians can enjoy and engage with the painting for generations to come”.

(Avtar Mota)

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