Tasveer and the Harrington Street Arts Centre are delighted to inform you that the exhibition, Maharanis: Women of Royal India, is currently on view in Kolkata.
Although Indian royalty have in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these have 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.
Chronicling the historical representation of royal women in India for over half a century, and through it, tracing the changing tropes of photographic portraiture, Maharanis: Royal Women of India 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.
Functioning as documented history, the photographs in this exhibition point us 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 us to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire. Understanding the socio-historical significance of these photographs, thus, this exhibition approaches these women — alluring figures who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery, featured in Vogue lists and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history, and we, have seldom paid attention to.
Maharanis: Women of Royal India, will remain on display until the 14th of October 2015.