Mapping the Past for the Present -The City Palace Museum Udaipur is holding an exhibition on rare painted and printed maps of Udaipur in association with The Getty Foundation of the USA.
‘Picturing Place: Painted and Printed Maps at the Udaipur Court’ is an exhibition at The City Palace Museum Udaipur. Funded by The Getty Foundation, under The Paper Project, the exhibition brings together rare printed maps, painted maps and cartographic documents from the Mewar Royal collection in the Mardana Mahal from July 2023 onwards.
The exhibition gives visitors fascinating insights into how places, landscapes, and the topography of the State of Mewar were produced on maps, paintings, and other related documents. The iconic architecture of Udaipur’s palaces can also be seen in these objects, as depicted by cartographic printers and painters of the past.
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF), Udaipur received a grant in 2021 from The Getty Foundation for an exhibition of this rare, and never-seen-before, array of maps and cartography-related documents. Curatorial and research teams of The City Palace Museum, have been working on preserving the cartographic materials dating back to the 1700s in its collections.
Said Dr Shailka Mishra, consultant curator for the project, “The exhibition has been curated in different themes. We have showcased some 53 objects including a diverse array of maps meticulously commissioned and collected by the Maharanas of Mewar. On display are seven Paintings, 31 Maps, one Architectural drawing, 12 photographs, one Photo album and one Bahida. There are details of topographical maps, landscape paintings, the cartographic works of British painters on Mewar and Udaipur, besides the early printed maps of India, world maps, and local district maps created for revenue administration are on display.”
To engage the visitors, there are interactive kiosks and tours provided in the gallery. Through stories, different perspectives, they can absorb new facts and knowledge about the history of Mewar through the maps.
“I heartily congratulate the curatorial and research teams of our Museum and the Getty Foundation,” said Dr Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, Trustee of Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, “for creating and curating yet another landmark exhibition. It is a fine example of how the living heritage of Mewar is being preserved and shared with young and global audiences alike in India and overseas. In the years ahead, we hope to build on these platforms of sharing authentic knowledge and our legacies.”
The ‘Picturing Place: Painted and Printed Maps at the Udaipur Court’ exhibition comes on the heels of the two major international exhibitions in France and the USA for which The City Palace Museum lent its invaluable collection in 2022-2023.
In France, the photographs of the State of Udaipur were jointly exhibited at Chambord castle titled ‘A Tale of Two Palaces’; while at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, a selection of over 70 paintings of Mewar was displayed in the exhibition ‘A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur’.
The exhibition of maps, as collected and produced in Udaipur Court, is significant for it provides insights into how the earlier generation of painters, draughtsmen, and historians were perceiving the world.
“These maps are historical documents and have tremendous archival value,” said Dr Mishra. “We have innumerable other court records like bahidas or daily dairies, architectural drawings, photographs and paintings: these maps complement and complete our understanding of the past.” The Udaipur Court was famous for its writings on history, and literature; maps are part of this vibrant intellectual culture belonging to Rajasthan and the entire nation.
Through this exhibition, Dr Mishra also explains the multifaceted purposes and interpretations of maps, from political and cultural motivations to imperialistic ambitions. “Seen together, it provides an opportunity to examine the visualization of architecture, landscape and topography in different mediums over two centuries,” said the consultant curator. The exhibition provides an avenue for further research on this unique collection and elaborates on the agency of court artists within the field of cartographic knowledge.
About the Organizations
Launched in 2018 by Getty, The Paper Project funds professional development and experimental projects for curators around the world who study prints and drawings to make graphic arts collections more accessible and relevant to 21st-century audiences.
Getty is a leading global arts organization committed to the exhibition, conservation, and understanding of the world’s artistic and cultural heritage. Working collaboratively with partners around the globe, the Getty Foundation, Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute are all dedicated to a greater understanding of the relationships between the world’s many cultures.
The City Palace Museum
The City Palace Museum, an initiative of MMCF, was set up in 1969 by His late Highness Maharana Bhagwat Singh Mewar of Udaipur to safeguard and preserve the cultural heritage and the time-honoured traditions of the people of Mewar.
The City Palace of Udaipur was the first of the many Royal Palaces of India to have taken the visionary step towards becoming a museum. Today the Udaipur City Palace Museum is a rich repository of paintings, photographs, textiles and royal costumes, arms and armouries, silver, sculptures, and musical instruments. These unique collections on display belong to the former Royal Family of Mewar and are preserved as the living heritage of Mewar.
Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF)
MMCF is a public charitable trust and an initiative of the Custodian of the House of Mewar for the perpetuation of its core values: service to mankind and society, upholding self-independence and self-reliance. It serves as a ‘temple of inspiration’ for future generations and continues the model of sustainability that is ‘Eternal Mewar’.
Operational since 1969 presently over 500 professionals are engaged in realizing the vision of Eternal Mewar. Through the establishment of educational institutions, philanthropic works, heritage management and promotion of sports, the Foundation has partnered with national and international organisations to achieve its objectives.
The leadership of Maharaj Kumar Dr Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar of Udaipur, Trustee – MMCF, has paved the way for the city of Udaipur to exemplify the living heritage of Mewar through several centres of excellence and models of sustainability.
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