Art Histories Seminar
Shailka Mishra: The Amber-Jaipur Workshop in the Eighteenth Century: Paintings, Art Market and Collecting Practices
Page from the Daily Register of the Painting Workshop, 1726, Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner.
Situated in present day north-eastern Rajasthan, the kingdom of Amber-Jaipur came into prominence after its alliance with the Mughal imperium. This talk investigates the painting workshop (suratkhana) of the Amber-Jaipur rulers through its extensive archival sources – account books, inventories, daily registers, treasury records, records of court protocol and so on. Seldom perused by art historians, these documents reveal the workshop as a dynamic center for the production, upkeep and collection of paintings. Records show that hundreds of paintings were being acquired by the Jaipur workshop from markets beyond its own territories. The presence of a thriving art market adds a new dimension to our understanding of the circulation of paintings and the formation of painting collections in the royal courts of India. The talk unravels the role of artists, patrons, court officials, purchasing agents and merchants to demonstrate the complex network of the art market. It further examines how the collecting of paintings modified workshop practices in Jaipur. After actively purchasing Mughal-style albums (muraqqas) the workshop started assembling its own collection in albums. By the mid-eighteenth-century albums became the preferred way to organize and consume paintings at the Jaipur court.
Shailka Mishra is Assistant Curator of the Mehrangarh Museum in Jodhpur, India and a Research Scholar at the Freer|Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, where she is cataloguing a newly acquired collection of north Indian court painting. As Assistant Curator at the Mehrangarh Museum, Shailka played a key role in conceptualizing and organizing Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India, a traveling exhibition that is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For the eponymous catalogue, Shailka co-authored the introductory chapter and wrote the painting entries. Her recent publications include "Maps and Map-making at the Amber-Jaipur Suratkhana in the 18th Century" in Jnana-Pravaha Research Journal.