Reminiscing a charcoal sketch of a boar by artist Sharmi Chowdhary, author and art historian, Kishore Singh chronicles the inimitable connect between art that emerges from royal ateliers and the Indian Maharaja’s love for the jungle. As a child, he remembers his grandfather riding off on what were called pig-sticking expeditions – a euphemism for wild boar hunting – complete with javelin-like spears and an army of beaters to send the dangerous beasts fleeing towards the shikaris. Despite being a dangerous sport, a successful hunt meant a feast involving the most appetising delicacy of wild boar pickle.
For India’s cadre of royal and aristocratic families, shooting came naturally to them. Independence and a shortage of game due to poaching may have put an end to these pleasures. The talented among the royals still go on shoots – but with a camera. Photography, as a hobby or passion, has been a royal pursuit. It has occupied enough blue-bloods like Yuvraj Vikramaditya Singh of Jammu and Kashmir and Yuvraj Aanjaneya Pratap Singh Deo of Jarasingha.
Yuvraj Vikramaditya Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, drawn to a language of landscapes, has been taking pictures for several years. He is attracted to silhouettes and sunsets. He likes photographing faces and moods, often within the scope of his landscapes to provide them with a perspective.
Yuvraj Aanjaneya Pratap Singh Deo of Jarasingha is naturally drawn to the wilderness of forests of north a
nd central India. He has spent days tracking tigers for their feline grace and strength. The tiger’s moods are chimerical which makes each of his portraits memorable and haunting.
At a time when contemporary art practices have shifted from aesthetic to provocative platforms, members of the Indian Royal families have held on to their roots of showcasing elegant, noble and moral lifestyle.