India's first known photographer-king's work to be on display

India's first known photographer-king's work to be on display
Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Member of the royal household, Modern digital reprint from wet collodion glass plate negative, c. 1870 CE | Photo: IANS
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New Delhi: An upcoming exhibition here will present rare reproductions of Jaipur's Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II's early engagement with photography as India's first known photographer-king.

The show titled 'A Reflective Oeuvre' will open at the Art Heritage gallery here, in collaboration with Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts.

Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, General view of the City Palace looking towards the North, Modern digital reprint from wet collodion glass plate negative, c. 1870 CE.

It will show previously unseen works from the archive of Jaipur's City Palace Museum that have been meticulously preserved and digitised over the last several years.

Deft with the camera, Sawai Ram Singh (1833-1880) captured landscape and urban imagery, the studied replication of art objects, and the depiction of the women and men of the court.

Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Unidentified woman of the zenana, Modern digital reprint from wet collodion glass plate negative, c. 1870 CE.

"The selections in this exhibition present the work of a practitioner who constantly manoeuvres between the image as a private and public statement, as we move from an 'akhara', a tropical greenhouse, and the palace garden to other, more formal subjects," Art Heritage told IANS.

Also revealed in the exhibition will be Sawai Ram Singh's work as a copyist, a photophile constantly testing his skill with reprography and emulation.

"Always the observer – reproducing Raphael's 'Sistine Madonna,' Victorian busts, masonic emblems and other objects – he offers a visual counterpart to the interior images of the French author Emile Zola as well as to the English fantasy writer Lewis Carroll's early piece entitled 'Photography Extraordinary' (1855)."

Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Wrestlers in an akhara, Modern digital reprint from wet collodion glass plate negative, c. 1870 CE.

The exhibition will also showcase re-composed vintage works of Nandan Ghiya, a Jaipur-based contemporary artist.

Curated by Giles Tillotson, Mrinalini Venkateswaran and Rahaab Allana, the month-long show will open on August 19 on World Photography Day.

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