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A royal exhibition

The ongoing exhibition in Delhi is showcasing rare reproductions of Jaipur's Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II's early engagement with photography as India's first known photographer-king.

The show titled 'A Reflective Oeuvre' opened at the Art Heritage gallery, in collaboration with Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum and The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts.

It shows previously unseen works from the archive of Jaipur's City Palace Museum that have been meticulously preserved and digitised over the last several years.

Deft with the camera, Sawai Ram Singh (1833-1880) captured landscape and urban imagery, the studied replication of art objects, and the depiction of the women and men of the court.

"The selections in this exhibition present the work of a practitioner who constantly manoeuvres between the image as a private and public statement, as we move from an 'akhara', a tropical greenhouse, and the palace garden to other, more formal subjects," Art Heritage said.

Also revealed in the exhibition is Sawai Ram Singh's work as a copyist, a photophile constantly testing his skill with reprography and emulation.

"Always the observer – reproducing Raphael's 'Sistine Madonna', Victorian busts, masonic emblems and other objects – he offers a visual counterpart to the interior images of the French author Emile Zola as well as to the English fantasy writer Lewis Carroll's early piece entitled 'Photography Extraordinary' (1855)."

The exhibition will also showcase re-composed vintage works of Nandan Ghiya, a Jaipur-based contemporary artist.

Curated by Giles Tillotson, Mrinalini Venkateswaran and Rahaab Allana, the month-long is open till September 19.

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