The Paintings of Sita Ram, Part Three

BY: SUN STAFF


Interior of the Madan Mohan Temple, Vrindavan
Painting by Seeta Ram, c. 1815
British Library Collection


Oct 03, 2014 — CANADA (SUN) — A serial presentation of the extraordinary collection of Sita Ram's early 1800's watercolors depicting Indian temples and landscapes.

In her discussion of Sita Ram's artistry, author Shabana Mahmud said this about his mastery of watercolor technique, which had never been a traditional Indian painting medium, and how he employed that skill in documenting temples, landscapes, etc.:

"Whether it was a view of the ruins of Gaur in his native Bengal or a distant panorama of the Himalayas from Moradabad, Sita Ram deftly captured the light and colour of the Indian landscape.

His drawings of monuments in their natural setting reveal his eye for architectural detail and mark a departure from the cold, almost photographic way that Indian monuments are seen in so many 'Company' paintings of his time.

All this makes his work a valuable record of the landscape of 19th-century north India before environmental and urban pollution began to take their toll. Some of the temples and ghats along the Ganges depicted by Sita Ram no longer exist, others are in an abject state of neglect…"

The painting above is a beautiful example of the legacy Mahmud describes. Sita Ram's depiction of the interior of the Madan Mohan temple at Brindaban is included in the folio of watercolors entitled 'Views by Seeta Ram from Tughlikabad to Secundra, Vol. VIII'. The artist's inscription states: 'Govind Takoor and Interior of the Mundel'.


Interior of a Temple at Vrindaban
Painting by Seeta Ram, c. 1815
British Library Collection


This painting bears the inscription by Sita Ram: 'Mundel of Krishenjee Takor at Bindrabund'. From the same folio as the painting above it, this watercolor may depict the Gopinath temple.


Mahadeo Temple, Vrindavan
British Library Collection, c. 1815


The next pair of paintings, immediately above and below, are scenes of the Mahadeo Temple at Vrindaban. This paired group of watercolors are titled 'Exterior and interior views of a temple at Brindaban'. The inscription states: 'Temple of Mahadeo at Bindrabund'.

These paintings are included in Volume VIII of the 'Views by Seeta Ram from Tughlikabad to Secundra' folio.


Mahadeo Temple, Vrindavan
British Library Collection, c. 1815


Finally, we have a pair of watercolors depicting a Shiva temple in Mathura. They are entitled 'Exterior and interior views of the Siva temple on the Ganga ghat at Mathura'. This pair is also included in Volume VIII of the 'Tughlikabad to Secundra' folio.


Shiva Temple on Ganga Ghat, Mathura
British Library Collection, c. 1815


As described by the British Library curators, the paintings represent an "Idealised view of the exterior and interior of the Siva temple on the Ganga ghat at Mathura. Mathura, on the banks of the river Yamuna 150 kms south of Delhi, is a sacred city for Hindus. Established as far back as 600 BC, it was famous as an important city of the Kushana empire in the 1st century AD. Mathura became a centre for the Vaishnava cult by the 15th century…".

Inscribed below the images are, respectively: 'Suvallah of Gunga at Muttra' and 'Gunga Takoor at Muttra'. A later inscription was added in pencil on the latter painting: 'Gunga Takoorauny at Muttoora'.


Shiva Temple on Ganga Ghat, Mathura
British Library Collection, c. 1815


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