Arrival of the groom at the palace, folio from a Ramayana

Historical period(s)
ca. 1640-1650
Mandi School
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (image): 31.7 × 48 cm (12 1/2 × 18 7/8 in) H x W (sheet): 34 × 50 cm (13 3/8 × 19 11/16 in)
India, Himachal Pradesh state, Mandi
Credit Line
Purchase from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

elephant, horse, India, marriage, palace, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, Ramayana
Provenance research underway.

Beginning around 1600, rulers of the Hindu kingdoms of northwest India known as Rajputs became allies and feudatories of the Mughal empire. India had ancient painting traditions, and kings were expected to patronize the arts. Favoring subjects ranging from royal portraits to illustrated narratives, Rajput patronage burgeoned as the Hindu courts became part of a new cultural imperium that valued fine manuscript paintings on paper.

Manuscripts, paintings, sketches, and painters circulated among courts. Paintings provide evidence that across north India, artists were familiar with multiple conventions: local, Imperial, Deccani and European. Some courts encouraged continuity with pre-Mughal painting traditions. Others, like Mandi, a small kingdom located in the Himalayan foothills of northwest India (in the modern state of Himachal Pradesh), adapted Mughal techniques and subjects.

In the third decade of the seventeenth century, an artist in Mandi began to produce sophisticated paintings in a Mughal-inflected idiom. Art historians have linked the emergence of this refined style to politics. Around the year 1600, Mandi entered into a political alliance with the Mughals. Rajas Hari Sen and his son Suraj Sen were connected to the imperial court during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, but they were also in contact with neighboring kingdoms in the Pahari hills. It was during their reigns that an elegant style incorporating imperial naturalism and finish first developed.

Published References
  • Catherine Glynn Benkaim. Early Painting in Mandi. series 1, vol. XLV Zurich. figs. 14, 15.
  • Masters of Indian Painting. Exh. cat. Zurich. pp. 408, 416, figs. 6, 7.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
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