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Portrait of Sayajirao Gaekwad III, Maharaja of Baroda (r. 1875-1939) (1863-1939)

H. & B. Narainc. 1900

Royal Ontario Museum

Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto, Canada

This portrait shows a young Maharaja of Baroda wearing a blue brocade silk men's angarkha with gold border, a turban decorated with a diamond and emerald ornament (sarpech) and ornament of pearl strands (turra, and black patent leather shoes. He stands in a conventional studio setting near a table with a plant, carpet, and curatins. One hand rests on a pile of books and the other on his sword. This portrait is meant to resemble European academic oil portraits, but was done on paper with a enlarged photographic print to guide the artist. The poor condition of this work, where areas of paint have flaked off, reveal a photographic layer clearly discernible under a microscope. Considering the age of the Maharaja in the portrait, it was likely done around 1900. Most photographs of him at this time show long sideburns, which the artist may have taken the liberty to shorten in this portrait.

In the modern period, visual practice in India has combined historical and new techniques in innovative ways. Indian painted photographs exemplify this by combining old and new painting styles with the new technology of photography. Painted photographs from different parts of the world moslty use colour to enhance the realism of a black and white image. In India, paint was used to give a realistic effect but also to embellish and enhance the emotional potential of the image, sometimes covering the entire photographic surface and sometimes mimicing a photographic aesthetic.

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