Rajputs from the Sultanate of Gujarat. Portuguese codex illustration, c.1640. Biblioteca Casanatence. Creative Commons CC0 1.0.

Online courses

The Splendour of Rajput Painting

  • Begins: Thursday 28 April 2022
    Until: Thursday 26 May 2022
  • Lecturer: Dr Ursula Weekes

The Rajputs are the Hindu warrior castes of Rajasthan and neighbouring areas of western, central and northern India. Rajput means ‘sons of kings’ (raja putra) and the clans are known for their valour, faithfulness and royalty. From the medieval period onwards, they built incredible fort palaces and fostered rich court cultures. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Mughal emperors of India sought to incorporate the Rajputs into their rule through marriage alliances and by promoting them in imperial military and administrative service.

Fierce competition between the Rajput clans meant that distinct styles of painting arose in different centres, but many shared themes were favoured. Court patronage was vibrant and Rajput rulers sponsored lavish manuscripts as well as stunning wall painting. The earliest surviving Rajput painting dates to the fifteenth century prior to the arrival of the Mughals. Thereafter, the extent to which different Rajput clans adopted a ‘Mughalised’ style of painting, depended on how close their political ties were with the imperial centre. But the explosion of Rajput painting and patronage took place chiefly in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as imperial Mughal painting was in decline and many artists sought new patrons. The course will enable participants to become familiar with the most popular themes of Rajput painting and the various styles of different schools.


 Early Rajput Painting: pre-Mughal beginnings

  1. The Politics of Style: alliance versus non-alliance with the Mughals
  2. Ragamalas and Ramayanas: music and mythology
  3. Portraiture in Rajput painting
  4. Parties and pleasure in Rajput painting


Dr Ursula Weekes is an independent Art Historian. Educated at St John’s College Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art, her first major book was Early Engravers and their Public (Harvey Miller, 2004). Ursula has worked as Supervisor of the Western Art Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum and as Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld and Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Her more recent work concentrates on the art of Mughal India.

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