Garden and Cosmos is an exhibition of 17th to 19th century Rajasthan art from the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur in western India. Most of the paintings in this exhibit have been viewed by only a handful of scholars since their creation. They are on loan from the present-day museum at Mehrangarh Fort, one of the largest forts in India. It was a complex of palaces, temples and courtyards that served generations of rulers as a vital centre of art and music.
The exhibit is organized in thematic sections that trace the history and development of Jodhpur court painting, defined primarily by the unique aesthetic vision of three ruling maharajas or kings. The "garden" motif first emerged under the reign of Maharaja Bakhat Singh (1725-51). Bakha Singh transformed the arid region by creating a sophisticated water-harvesting system and by rebuilding garden palaces, which are portrayed in the paintings as opulent architectural settings.
During the reign of Maharaja Vijai Singh (1752-93), his atelier created "monumental manuscripts" of sacred texts that related to Hindu deities. Here the earlier, earthly court depictions evolved into sacred landscapes with narrative content.
Artworks created under Maharaja Man Singh (reigned 1803-1843) are notable for their ingenuity, conceptual content and metaphysical themes. Man Singh was devoted to an esoteric yogic tradition. The visionary works created in this period shimmer with gold and silver, and represent such subjects as the creation of the cosmos, yoga postures, mandalas and chakras.