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Goetz (Hermann) on Indian Paintings
(Editor, Compiler, Author and Translator Dr. PADMA SUDHI)
One of Dr. Goetz works was on Costume in Indian art written in 1924. As it is published in German I am not directly acquainted with its contents. But his subsequent papers on Indian painting have a good ideal of description and identification of costime which he used as tools for discerning and locating mutial influences between Rajput, Mughal and Deccani schools. He was also to use the costume analysis later one a one of the objective tools for determining Mughal influence on Rajput Painting as well as mutual influences between Marwar, Jaipur, Mewar and Bikaneer Kalams in Rajasthan.
His second book concerning Indian Painting written in collaboration with Kuhnel in 1926, entitled Indian Book Painting from Jehangir's Album in the State Library in Berlin. It is available in English translation. Not only was it an important discovery but it was first major presentation of the problem of the impact of European realism on Mughal Painting for this Album contained copies of engravings by Mughal Painters from German originals which Goetz and Kuhnel had been able to identify especially several of them which were based on Durer's engravings. However, we find on his arrival in Indian Goetz consistently perusing the study of Rajput Painting, its sources and development and especially its relationship and dependence, on the Mughal schools. The several papers he wrote culminated in what is one of his major standpoints-the article entitled Rajput Art: its problem published in 1947 in Art and thought which is a collection of essays in honor of 70th birthday of Ananda Coomaraswamy. It was a very bold article though as a tribute to the great Ceylonese scholar, yet refuting Coomaraswamy's interpretation, of historical development of Rajput paintings.
Goetz observed that since Coomaraswamy's discovery of Rajput painting, Rajput art studies have landed in an impasse, and that we must completely revise our fundamental approach before they can be definitely placed on solid basis. He pointed yet Rajput architecture had received perfunctory treatment. Therefore, this sin of connecting Rajput painting from Rajput art as one of living organism implied according to him the second sin of disconnecting Rajput art from the realities of Rajput life. Because Rajput painting is full of romance and mysticism scholars have tended to treat its historical background as a idyllic timeless world immune from the influence of an age full of war, revolutions and culture cross currents. And this second misconception according to Goetz implied the third one. Instead of judging Rajput art on its own merits, its traditional Hindu religiosity and religious background were accepted as unquestioned evidence that it had to be regarded as a continuation of classic and high Medieval Hindu Art. Finally, Goetz observed that as the logical consequence of those three erroneous premises there followed the last one a wrong chronology and a not less objectionable classification system of hypothetic local Schools of painting. What were Goetz's answers? Analyzing feature of Rajput architecture he noted its assimilation of Islamic and Mughal elements before Rajput architecture could develop its own distinct style. Giving this analogy Goetz argued that this very swinging between the poles of foreign influence and self assertion can like-wise be traces in critical examination of the chronology of Rajput Paining. Goetz asserted that Coomaraswamy's chronology and that of almost all his followers was incorrect and further that a continuous Pure Rajput style had never existed. Goetz was to prove how wide-spread was the influence of Mughal style on Rajasthani Painting and that in many Rajput stated even the artists executing those Rajput paintings were Muslims on the basis of documents he had discover in the Bikaner palace Collection.
Goetz discounted the hypothesis of a direct link between high Medievel Hindu and the different branches of Rajput painting as postulated by Coomaraswamy. Two important considerations were crucial. The consequence of Muslim invasion in North India and the introduction of Islamic art. Therefore, if there had been no continuous local traditions, if there has been a constant exchange of artists and techniques not only between the various Rajput courts, but also between Rajput and Muslims Art, the question must be faced, what actually the relation between those later had been and whether Coomaraswamy's definition of a district Rajput art had been justified" he asked. Goetz had hinted at the importance of the Muslim miniature of the Sultanates which has just begun to come to light then and which are, 30 years later, even when more of them are known, perplexing the scholars of our generation. These showed the old Hindu Gujarati and contemporary Mangol-Iranian and Trimurid-Turanian elements existing side by side but unassimilated.
Finally Goetz was to conclude that 'Rajput Art, thus is an off shoot neither of Muslim not of Hindu art. It has learned and assimilated very much from both, yet its spirit is different. As the Indo-Muslim spirit was the expression of a mixed Iranian-Turkish ruler-class with some Arab and Indian strains, and as the Medieval Hindu Spirit that of an assimilation of originally Aryan rulling castes, akin to the Iranians, by Pre-Aryan Indigenous Indian middle and lower castes; the Rajput spirit was the expression of barbarian Aryan late comers and Iranians converted to the old Hindu Culture tradition.
Goetz's detailed study of a specific school of Rajput painting was that on Bikaner, which actually a significant discovery was some time during 1947. The thousands of paintings in the palace collection many of which bore dates, place names and names of artists, proved four crucial tacts
(i) that Bikaner was one of the major art centre in Rajasthan,
(ii) that it was heavily influenced by Mughal style due to the close relation between Bikaner Rules and the Mughal court
(iii) that many of the Bikaner artists were Muslims, one of them definitely had connections with Mughal court (Rukn-ud-din) the names of artist even enabled to work out the geneology of the artist families and
(iv) lastly an epochal fact of the presence of many Deccani paintings brought by Anupsingh from Adoni who had led many of the military campaigns into Deccan on behalf of Aurangzeb. The last fact proved the importance of Dec cani factors in both Rajasthani and Mughal Painting on which unfortunately not much work has been done since then.
Goetz also wrote detailed papers on Mewar, Jaipur, Marwar schools. He postulated that first paintings in Rajput style must have been produced at Jaipur also called Amber or Dhundhar because of the proximity with the Mughal court though the actual ev idence is scanty. He had at first believed that painting could not have flourished at Mewar because of the Udaipur Ranas being at first belligerent towards the Mughals. Later he was to revised his stand as actual discoveries of Mewari Paintings became available.
In spite of the further researches carried on by many scholars during the lst three decades it must be observed that a great vaccum exists in the studies of Rajasthani Painting in our own times in terms of the problems posed by Dr. Goetz.
Author: Parimoo, Ratan
Source: Reflection on Indian Art and Culture.
(Special Commemoration Vol.on Dr. Goetz.)
Museum and Picture gallery, Baroda. Vol. XXVIII. 1978-79.
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