Bharata and Shatrughana Bid Farewell To Their Parents and Brother Rama

A scene from the Ramayana, the Indian epic that follows Prince Rama's quest to rescue his beloved wife from the demon King Ravana

By National Museum - New Delhi

Bharata and Shatrughana take leave of their parents and Rama, before proceeding for Kekaya (Early 19th Century) by UnknownNational Museum - New Delhi

The painting depicts an event from the epic Ramayana when the brothers Bharata and Shatrughna bid adieu to their father, their mother and step mothers and their elder brother Rama, before proceeding to Kekaya, a kingdom ruled by their maternal grandfather.

Rendered in a simultaneous narrative the painter depicts the two brothers taking leave of their father the grey haired King Dashratha on the right, their mother Kaikeyi in the upper middle register, their step mother Kaushalya in the left, and their brother Rama in the lower foreground.

The artist displays a flair for playing out fresh and lively colours amid soft and pastel shades. The use of colours and repeated patterns interspersed within the painting compositionally stitch the architectural niches and pavilions together in a continuous weave. 

The zig-zagging elements of white architecture and green lawn interconnect the narrative. 

Note for instance the clever use of the red carpet in the niche of the King Dashratha on the far right..

..the pavilion Queen Kaushalya on the far left..

and in the niche of the prince Rama below in the foreground..

and in the niche of the prince Rama below in the foreground..

..while similar shades of the lemon carpet are placed in the niches of the queen Kaikeyi in the top centre.. well as the queen Sumitra on the bottom left.

Alert movements and glances of figures are used to skilfully lead the eye to transverse around the painted surface. The brightly attired palace women conversing with each other are strategically placed, in the doorway, or open courtyards similarly invite the viewer's glance to move within the painting. 

The gestures of the secondary figures contribute much to the visual narrative.

Note for instance the surprised turn of the figure in the niche under King Dashratha, who upon being informed by the old man in orange about the news of the departure of the young princes turns sharply, while the mahout of the elephant on which the princes will ride on in their journey waits with an impatient gesture.

The painter skillfully depicts animals - the naturalistically rendered elephant, the twisting peacock and the restlessly fluttering hawk.

The figures of the women and the young princes are rendered with delicate charm, with finely chiseled faces, long doe-like eyes and graceful limbs..

..while the older men are depicted with distinct individuality. Subtle shading gives volume to the faces.

The painter displays an extraordinary delicacy of both colour and line. Cool mathematical precision of the white marbled structures is broken by a delightful rendering of intricate details. Dainty floral motifs run along on the architraves of the white marble pavilions..

..while the delicately rendered turrets, the lovely lotus bases of the columns and the tall elegant niches imbue the painting with elegance.

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