The paintings which from now onwards were to lend such distinction to the Garhwal court can be divided into two distinct groups. The first consists of less than twenty exquisite creations and is clearly the work of an outstanding master-artist. It is inconceivable that these are all the pictures he produced but due to subsequent mishaps, they are all that have survived. We do not know his name but judging by certain changes of manner, his work had three successive phases. The first, represented by plates 2 and 3, reveals his initial reactions to the Garhwal setting. The style with its lyrical delicacy is obviously a product of Guler experiments but important novelties are already visible. Facial features are rendered in a manner closely similar to a Guler formula but with a new inflection. Colour is more powerful—strong blues and reds alternating with deep blacks and greens. Indeed it is as if the very circumstance of migration had stirred his sensibility and evoked a sudden leap in style. In one respect, a special artistic influence can be detected. In the Encounter at the Pool, the great empty hillside, the tiny city on the far horizon and even the deep intense blue can all be paralleled in Chamba offshoots of the Guler manner while in the Lady at the Tryst, the sharply formal setting, the wriggling lightning and the sharp cut of the veil betray the same artistic source. Yet the total style is quite unlike Chamba painting and we can only conclude that at some time the artist had obtained access to pictures in the Guler-Chamba manner and availed himself of some of their idioms. The influence was to remain of some importance for even in a slightly later picture, the composition is modelled on a Chamba prototype.
The second phase is marked by a different characteristic—a new emotional response to landscape. Trees with leafless branches are drawn with the same sinuous delicacy with which Guler artists had transcribed the female body. Foliage is rendered with sensitive subtlety while the structure of trees is so interpreted as to bring out to the full their formal character. At the same time, feminine figures seem imbued with even lighter grace. Delicacy in Nature echoes delicacy in woman and whether the subject is lovers in a moon-lit retreat or a lady hastening through the night, the images of nature are all employed to interpret and enhance a passionate scene.
The third and final phase shows yet another variant. A mood of lyrical exaltation continues to be expressed but an idiom local to Garhwal becomes its means of communication. It would seem that besides responding to the trees and hillsides at the capital, the master-artist was also stirred by the spiralling eddies of the great Alaknanda river which during the Rains rushed through the valley of Srinagar, spending itself against the two hillocks, Nar and Narain, which jutted into the streamt. The play of water, with its melody of line, seems to have specially fascinated him, and as a result he now developed a strain of linear incantation, deliberately simplifying his treatment of hillsides and imposing on his subjects a single twining rhythm. In the great Quelling of Kaliya, the eddies in the water curl and re-curl, trees and flowers echo the bending forms while even the hills, as in the Road to Krishna contribute to a general cadence.