PAINTINGS OF THE SIKHSby W. G. Archer

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  • PAINTINGS OF THE SIKHS by W. G. ArcherReview by: R. J. VARNEYJournal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 116, No. 5145 (AUGUST 1968), pp. 810-811Published by: Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and CommerceStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41371945 .Accessed: 28/06/2014 18:12

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  • JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF ARTS AUGUST 1 968 that may yet lead to the preservation of some of these irreplaceable works of art. There are parts of Dublin that are due and overdue for rebuilding. Surely modern architects can find opportunities enough without destroying the work of their predecessors.

    JOHN BRANDON-JONES

    paintings of the sikhs. By W. G. Archer. London , H.M.S.O. , 1967. 63s net It is only in comparatively recent times that the classification of the relatively

    minor schools of north Indian miniature painting has come to receive the close attention of scholars. This has been because, not unnaturally, the whole field of Indian painting and its classification by period and school is itself a recent subject. But now most of this work has been largely completed and researchers can turn their attention to the perhaps less important, but no less interesting, schools of painting which have been previously passed over. Mr. Archer has for many years been one of the leading authorities on Indian painting and we have grown used to the scholarship which he brings to bear upon the subject at the moment engaging his attention. He has now turned to the Sikhs, and more particularly a school of painting with which Sikh rulers came to be associated in the early nineteenth century.

    The first section of the book is devoted to a history of the Sikh movement which culminated in the establishment of a Sikh kingdom in the Punjab at the end of the eighteenth century under Maharajah Ranjit Singh. The Sikh brotherhood was founded at the end of the fifteenth century but remained a small religious sect under its Gurus, or religious teachers, for nearly two centuries. As a result of persecution by the Mughal rulers of India in the seventeenth century, however, the religious sect turned into a group of people who were ready to fight for their freedom of worship. But they were not well organized and the strong Mughal forces caused them to remain a roving band of warriors. The declining power of the Mughal Empire during the eighteenth century allowed the Sikh bands to become more settled, even holding some of the lands which they had taken from the Mughals. Under Ranjit Singh, however, these bands were united and he was able to set up a Sikh kingdom.

    As his domain expanded, he sent his generals as Governors to the courts of the subjugated Rajahs. These Rajahs kept courts in the Mughal style, and it was at these centres that the military Sikhs gradually became involved in the arts of the courts where they lived. The Sikhs were military men and not natural patrons of the visual arts, but by being exposed to courtly life in this way and being also in positions of authority they gradually adopted the trappings of courtly life. They were, moreover, considered by their Rajput colleagues to be rather uncultivated and were at first not popular with the Rajput nobility. They were thus anxious to be accepted into Rajput society on an equal basis, and this was an added incentive to be painted to show that they were prepared to conform to the habits of Rajput society.

    Some of the earliest paintings for the Sikhs show the Gurus, but from about 1825 onwards portraits of Sikh leaders become increasingly common. The new subjects were distinguishable by differences in dress and habit, one of the most obvious differences being the use of a chair to sit on rather than the traditional cushions used by the Rajputs. Thus the paintings made for the new Sikh patrons were based upon the styles current at the courts of the hill Rajahs where they were staying. Mr. Archer traces the history of these paintings from the various centres in considerable detail, illustrating his account with over one hundred and ten black and white illustrations of miniature paintings in both public and private collections, together with numerous quotations from historians and contemporary travellers' writings. In addition his survey also covers work done by Europeans who were known to have made drawings and paintings of Sikh subjects. 810

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  • AUGUST 1968 NOTES ON BOOKS

    The text is further supported by a catalogue of all the Sikh paintings in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with references to comparative works in other museums and with a special section on woodcuts made for popular con- sumption in the Punjab about 1870. There are also notes and a very full bibliography. This is altogether the scholarly work that one would expect a book published under the auspices of the Victoria and Albert Museum to be. It is a pity, however, that one or two of the illustrations are not quite up to standard, especially since the paintings illustrated are relatively unknown works in private collections in India.

    R. J. VARNEY

    handbook of greek pottery. By Robert S. Folsom. London , Faber , 1967. 845 net

    This book is an admirable introduction to the study of ancient Greek pottery. Such a work has been long overdue. Regarded as a primer, it will prove of great assistance to those who have already acquired some knowledge of the many kinds of pottery produced by the Greeks. Mr. Folsom's handbook forms an ideal companion to Greek Pottery by the late Arthur Lane, published by Faber & Faber (1948) in their monographs on pottery and porcelain. Together, the two works provide valuable guidance to an admittedly difficult but fascinating subject.

    Two fields of ceramic study - Far Eastern and Greek - have attracted attention of late. The former makes the greater appeal, due, in no small measure, to the many works on Oriental ceramics which have appeared since the turn of the century. Greek pottery, on the other hand, has resisted all attempts at popularization. Hitherto all that was to be known of the study was embedded in learned transactions, frequently in a foreign language, usually difficult to obtain ; or in tomes of forbidding aspect. Public displays of ancient Greek pottery, virtually confined to the British Museum and the older universities in pre-war days, had the effect of creating a curiosity which was left unsatisfied. The novice of forty years ago soon became aware that he could expect little help from aged guide books or exhibitions of imposing vases which created an entirely false view of Greek wares as a whole.

    This work has other aims, even though the plates do err on the side of magnificence. They are rightly included as type specimens, however, but some of the humbler vessels included in the silhouettes might have been included in the plates.

    After a frank foreword and an introduction the author proceeds to a chronological summary, techniques and materials, followed by painting and design, the shapes of the vessels and the uses to which they were put. This basic information is amplified later with the aid of drawings and silhouettes in the text which are most helpful. There is a colour chart, not, however, in colour but indicating the ground hue and the colours employed by the painter. A select bibliography makes up a welcome and well-produced book.

    GEOFFREY BEMROSE

    81I

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    Article Contentsp. 810p. 811

    Issue Table of ContentsJournal of the Royal Society of Arts, Vol. 116, No. 5145 (AUGUST 1968), pp. 709-812FORTHCOMING WESTERN CENTRE MEETING [pp. 709-709]INDUSTRIAL DESIGN BURSARIES COMPETITION 1968 [pp. 709-710]FACILITIES FOR FELLOWS [pp. 710-711]MEETING OF COUNCIL [pp. 711-712]ERRATUM: THE SCIENTIFIC CULTIVATION OF SEA FISH AND SHELL FISH [pp. 712-712]214TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING [pp. 713-736]DESIGN PLAGIARISM AND COPYRIGHT REFORM [pp. 737-749]REFUSE, SCRAP AND LITTER [pp. 750-770]TECHNOLOGICAL PROGRESS IN INDUSTRY [pp. 771-782]THE MODERN AIRPORTAND ITS FUTURE [pp. 783-804]GENERAL NOTES [pp. 805-806]NOTES ON BOOKSReview: untitled [pp. 806-807]Review: untitled [pp. 807-808]Review: untitled [pp. 808-810]Review: untitled [pp. 810-811]Review: untitled [pp. 811-811]

    FROM THE JOURNAL OF 1868 [pp. 812-812]

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