Maharana Bhupal Singh (reigned 1930-1955)

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Maharana Bhupal Singh (reigned 1930-1955)

India, Rajasthan, Mewar, Udaipur, circa 1940
Opaque watercolor on photograph; cardboard mount
Image: 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (21.59 x 16.51 cm); Mount: 14 3/4 x 10 1/4 in. (37.47 x 26.04 cm)
South and Southeast Asian Acquisition Fund (M.2004.192)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Photography was introduced in India during the mid-19th century....
Photography was introduced in India during the mid-19th century. Painters working in court ateliers were so taken with the medium that they incorporated this new technique of artistic representation into their repertoire by embellishing photographs of their royal patrons with the addition of opaque watercolor pigments. The over painting of royal portraits (taken by both local and European photographers) ranged from subtle tinting to a more vigorous intervention using a thick application of pigment so heavy that it obscured the original photograph. This exquisite painted photograph depicts Maharana Bhupal Singh (reigned 1930-1955), ruler of the princely state of Mewar in Rajasthan. Although the identity of the photographer is unknown, an inscription below the portrait indicates the over painting was done by Chhaganlal Gaur (active circa 1916-1945), one of the primary Mewar court artists. He sparingly applied color to enhance or diminish certain features of his illustrious patron’s face. The heaviest use of pigment was reserved for Bhupal Singh’s embroidered jacket which was applied as an impasto. Examination of the work under infra-red light by LACMA’s Conservation Department revealed that this radical augmentation was necessary to obscure the original rectangular format of the photograph when it was expanded to a larger oval format. A painted photograph by Chhaganlal Gaur of Bhupal Singh done around his accession in 1930 is in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2004.36.1).


  • Dewan, Deepali. "A Tale of Two Mediums: Paint and Photography in Udaipur." In Magic World: New Visions of Indian Painting, edited by Molly Emma Aitken, 64-73. Mumbai: Marg Foundation, 2016.