The first evidence of cultural fertilization at Guler occurs in the reign of Raja Dalip Singh (1695-1744) when a style of painting closely resembling that of Basohli makes its appearance. Flat red planes are used for backgrounds while certain idioms for trees, architecture and people have robust Basohli characters. It was under Raja Gobardhan Singh (1744-73), however, that decisive experiments were made. In about the year 1740, a Mughal artist from the Plains seems to have joined the court. His style was markedly different from the dreary sobrieties which had characterized Mughal painting under the emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707). In fact, its nearest equivalent is the fluent naturalism of the later Akbar period. His methods were closely similar to those of another artist, Nainsukh, who, a few years later, was painting for a scion of the house of Jammu, Raja Balwant Singh. So close, in fact, are the two styles that it is more than likely that either Nainsukh himself also worked at Guler, producing the pictures in question, or members of his family, skilled in his own technique, were given employment. As a result, from 1740 to 1770, two strands of expression occur in Guler, each strand affecting the other yet each remaining perceptibly distinct. The strand illustrated by the Mughal 'outsider' accounts for various pictures of the Raja and his court, as also for certain studies on religious themes. All these show a keen interest in pose and gesture, individuals are portrayed with marked facial character and the line is, in general, so suave and fluid that the whole composition exudes a vivid naturalism. The other strand, deriving from the early contact with Basohli, accounts for pictures in which the backgrounds are still, to a great extent, schematic. Flat red planes are employed, a standard combination of red, blue and white persists while abrupt angular settings provide sharp contrast to the suavely rendered figures. Side by side with such technical developments, there also emerges a 'deliberate research into physical charm'. In both kinds of Guler art, ladies were now portrayed with a conscious delight in their fluid movements and rhythmical grace, sexual symbols were freely exploited and pictures were increasingly produced illustrating with exquisite refinement the poetry of passion. When, in 1773, Raja Gobardhan Singh at length died, Guler artists were still experimenting with different physical types, no single authoritative manner had been evolved and there was still a difference between the rival strands of art. Many works of charming nobility, however, had been produced, a new vocabulary of artistic expression had been devised and the stage was set for a new superb flowering.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7