Forty-three South Asian miniature paintings representing a number of different artistic traditions and spanning five centuries travelled to the Museum from the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. Portraiture, religious and literary texts, and Ragamala paintings, which depict a range of musical melodies known as ragas, were represented in the exhibition. These works illuminate the opulence of the Mughal court, the actions of gods in the form of men, lively battles, and courtly love.
Miniatures were usually small, but the term derived from minium Latin for “red lead, vermilion” that was used to mark important words in European manuscripts. With brilliant color and burnished, enamel-like surfaces, each scene was contained in the intimate size of a manuscript or album page. Artists used fine brushes and magnifying lenses to render such detail on a minute scale.
Realms of Earth and Sky was organized by Daniel J. Ehnbom, Associate Professor of South Asian Art, McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia. A lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition Realms of Earth and Sky: Indian Painting from the 15th to the 19th Century.