Thakur Balwant Singh Presides at a Dance Performance
Attributed to Mohan Lal, Indian (Rajasthan, Jaipur), active late 19th century
The artist Mohan Lal makes the most of his art form and imagination in this painting. The clocks in the upper corners, with their faces tilted, actually display the same time, and two dancers-almost lost in the carpet-have unique facial features. The room is dressed to impress with its fine chandeliers and enormous Axminster carpet. During the Raj-the era of British domination of India-patrons such as this minor ruler decorated their homes with European possessions in order to display their wealth and fashion. Mohan Lal was trained in the Jaipur court workshop but was probably dismissed from his post by Maharaja Ram Singh II (reigned 1835-80), whose program of modernization (and Westernization) was unprecedented. As a freelance artist, Mohan Lal faced stiff competition from professional photographers who cornered the portrait market from the 1870s onward.