Between about 1750 and 1850, painters in the Himalayan foothill region of northern India perfected a vision of a courtly world where flowering trees framed uniformly beautiful people. These painters often illustrated the texts favored by their royal patrons—especially popular were sections of the ancient Hindu epics. Because these texts embed their religious meaning in exciting tales of quests, battles, romances, and intrigues, they were illustrated not only for devotion but also for entertainment. Sets of sequential images, sometimes over a hundred to a set, were created with minimal or even no written text attached.
Today it is rare to find complete sets of these illustrations, but, thanks to the richness of the Museum's collection, each painting is exhibited with at least one other from the same set to explore this extraordinary tradition of visual narrative. Also included will be two rare nineteenth-century textiles from the same region, exquisitely embroidered with related scenes and motifs.