A look at the painting traditions of northwestern India in the
eighteenth century, and what they reveal about the political and
artistic changes of the era In the long eighteenth century, artists
from Udaipur, a city of lakes in northwestern India, specialized in
depicting the vivid sensory ambience of its historic palaces,
reservoirs, temples, bazaars, and durbars. As Mughal imperial
authority weakened by the late 1600s and the British colonial
economy became paramount by the 1830s, new patrons and mobile
professionals reshaped urban cultures and artistic genres across
early modern India. The Place of Many Moods explores how Udaipur's
artworks-monumental court paintings, royal portraits, Jain letter
scrolls, devotional manuscripts, cartographic artifacts, and
architectural drawings-represent the period's major aesthetic,
intellectual, and political shifts. Dipti Khera shows that these
immersive objects powerfully convey the bhava-the feel, emotion,
and mood-of specific places, revealing visions of pleasure,
plenitude, and praise. These memorialized moods confront the ways
colonial histories have recounted Oriental decadence, shaping how a
culture and time are perceived. Illuminating the close relationship
between painting and poetry, and the ties among art, architecture,
literature, politics, ecology, trade, and religion, Khera examines
how Udaipur's painters aesthetically enticed audiences of courtly
connoisseurs, itinerant monks, and mercantile collectives to forge
bonds of belonging to real locales in the present and to long for
idealized futures. Their pioneering pictures sought to stir such
emotions as love, awe, abundance, and wonder, emphasizing the
senses, spaces, and sociability essential to the efficacy of
objects and expressions of territoriality. The Place of Many Moods
uncovers an influential creative legacy of evocative beauty that
raises broader questions about how emotions and artifacts operate
in constituting history and subjectivity, politics and place.
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