The royal frames

Photo exhibition

An exhibition titled ‘Maharanis: Women of Royal India’ is being organised by art gallery Tasveer at lifestyle store Cinnamon from February 20 to March 21. 

Along with the preview of the exhibition, there was a launch of its accompanying publication, produced by Tasveer, in association with Mapin Publishing. 

“Although Indian royalty have in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these has always been centred around the figure of the male ruler or the ‘maharaja’. As a counterpoint to these narratives, this exhibition, organised as part of Tasveer’s 10th anniversary season, focuses on the ‘maharanis’ and other royal women of erstwhile princely India,” says organiser Shilpa Vijayakrishnan.

Chronicling the historical representation of royal women in India for over half a century, and through it, tracing the changing tropes of photographic portraiture, the exhibition includes images from the archives of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), esteemed royal collections from across the subcontinent and other institutional and private collections both in India and abroad such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Amar Mahal Museum & Library in Jammu.

“The photographs here function as documented history, pointing towards the ways in which these women circumvented and reinvented the traditional or embraced and reinvented the modern. Serving as windows into a time of great political and social change, they allow one to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire,” adds Shilpa saying, “Peeling several layers, the exhibition looks at these alluring figures, who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history has seldom paid attention to.”

The accompanying book (available for purchase) will include not only photographs from the exhibition, but also additional material sourced during its research stages. It also features an introduction by Abhishek Poddar & Nathaniel Gaskell, and four original texts authored by Pramod Kumar, Martand Singh, Amin Jaffer and Shilpa Vijayakrishnan, that provide the reader with wider contexts within which to view the photographs.

The exhibition is on view at Cinnamon, 24, Gangadhar Chetty Road from 10.30 am to 8 pm. 

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