The varied aspects of romantic love is one of the most prominent themes in the arts of India. Authors produced treatises on the many types of lovers and their differing temperaments. Poets compiled cycles of verse likening love’s phases to the passage of the seasons. Writers compared the religious quest for unity with the divine to the pursuit of one’s beloved. Composers crafted musical arrangements to express love’s many moods. And artists created paintings to visualize these and myriad other musings on the subject of love.
This exhibition’s twenty-three paintings are assembled from VMFA’s permanent collection, and more than a third of them on display for the first time. They were created in a variety of styles by artists working at courts scattered across north, central, and western India. Rather than their formal qualities, however, this presentation explores their subject matter: love’s many facets and the wide range of emotions it can produce—from enchantment, passion, and joy to betrayal, self-pity, and anguish.
The Months of Shravana and Bhadra (detail), ca. 1780, Indian, Rajasthan, Bundi, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
A Lady after Her Bath, Holding a Lotus Bud Received from a Winged Messenger (detail), early 19th century, Indian, Rajasthan, Jaipur, opaque watercolor and gold on paper, Friends of Indian Art and the Robert A. and Ruth W. Fisher Fund
Page from a Ragamala Series, Bhairavi Ragini (detail), 18th century, Indian, Rajasthan, Bundi or Kota, opaque watercolor and ink on paper, Gift of an anonymous donor in memory of Muriel B. Christison