Prince Yeshwant Rao Holkar and his sister Manorama raje
Materials & Technique: photographs, paper; photographic emulsion; watercolour gelatin silver photograph hand-coloured in water colour, in original gilded frame Support: card
Bombay studio photographer Gopinath Devare of Devare Art Studio was photographer to HH Maharaja Tukoji Rao III of the Maratha state of Indore in central India. Devare most likely travelled to Indore around 1918 to take this portrait of the Holkar heir Prince Yeshwant with his younger sister Princess Manorama Raje. The softly lit European drawing room setting and informal pose of the young sitters is made luminous by fine hand-colouring which brings out the detail and texture of their garments. Hand-coloured studio portraiture forms a distinctive and major part of the history of photography in India from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century, and is still practised in India.
Prince Yeshwant was sent off to school in England. Although he apparently didn’t enjoy the experience, after his accession as maharaja in the 1930s he became an enthusiast of European art and architecture. For the décor of his modernist palace known as Manik Bagh, the Maharaja acquired a pair of abstract sculptures each titled L'Oiseau dans l'espace [Bird in space] c 1931–36 by the European modernist Constantin Brancusi. The National Gallery of Australia purchased these sculptures from the Maharaja’s estate in 1973.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014