Book Title: Origins of Orchha Painting: Orchha, Datia, Panna — Miniatures from the Royal Courts of Bundelkhand
Author: Konrad Seitz
KONRAD SEITZ’ three-volume tome on Orchha painting sets out to correct two wrongs. First, an absurd attribution to Malwa school; second, a much too late date of 1634 for the founding series. Seitz says the first error degraded this Rajput school to a provincial school, and the second made it impossible to establish any credible evolution of the school’s style.
‘Origins of Orchha Painting’ attributes the so-called Malwa painting to the three Bundelkhand kingdoms of Orchha, Datia and Panna, re-dates the founding series to circa 1592-95, and arranges the numerous series of the school into a stylistic evolution.
Seitz, an academic and former German ambassador to India, says he was fascinated with Orchha paintings at first sight when, during his first diplomatic posting at Delhi in 1968, he saw these at a hotel bookshop. He, along with his wife Eva, is one of Germany’s foremost collectors of Indian miniature paintings — especially Pahari and Orchha.
The miniature school of Bundelkhand that first developed at Orchha was the earliest and most Indian of all the Rajput schools. At the time of its founding, it was the only one to practice a purely indigenous style, “untainted” by the naturalism of imperial Mughal painting. The author’s analysis of over 240 paintings from his collection sheds light on the school’s development. All Orchha paintings have religious themes, with Krishna as the central subject.
Initially published in German in 2015, this book is first in a three-volume series. The first deals with the founding period of Orchha painting (1590–1605), and how it derived from pre-Mughal early Rajput painting which flourished at the Tomar court of Gwalior from around 1460. The subsequent volumes analyse how this school developed from 1605–1635 and spread to Datia after the disintegration of Orchha in 1635 and later to Panna in 1680s.