In the West, the hand-painting of photographs was limited to adding subtle highlights or making minor corrections. In India, however, the technique took a unique and characteristically vibrant turn. Despite their initial infatuation with the medium, Indian royals soon started to feel something was missing in black-and-white photographs. Something of the grandeur and magnificence of their robes, jewels and palaces were getting lost in translation. This was when a merger of two distinct art-forms occurred, and court painters were employed to apply colour over photographs. The new arrangement gave Indian princes the best of both worlds: a quick and honest recreation of their likeness, plus a highly embellished final product, worthy of the skills of a miniaturist. This photograph of Maharana Bhupal Singh could be considered as a fine example of just how much reality could be bent in service of the royal narrative. The king was disabled at a very young age and could not stand straight. Here, the painter has taken the freedom the medium allows to portray His Highness standing upright. The original photograph was painted over, leaving only his face visible. The artist has vividly brought out the details of the maharaja’s jewellery and royal robes, but the same cannot be said of the background. Read our guide to Painted Photographs here.
TitlePainted Photograph of Maharana Bhupal Singh of Udaipur
ArtistPanna Lal Mewada
DimensionsFramed- H: 85 cm x W: 64.5 cm; Mount - H: 80 cm x W: 58.5 cm; Sight surface - H: 56 cm x W: 40 cm