Within the Rajput tradition, Malwa painting is noted for its conservatism; compared with most other schools of painting in Rajasthan, it betrays little awareness of or influence fromthe predominant Mughal style and insistently harks back to pre-Mughal conventions. This can be seen here in the conventionalized figures and architecture.
The blues, reds, and yellows; the relatively simple backgrounds; and the figures' sweet facesand delicate gestures are characteristics shared by Malwa paintings of the later 17th century. The simplification and elongation of the figures are typical of works painted in the third quarter of the century.
Love is the theme of this charming illustration of a woman rushing through the rain to meet her lover. Ragamala paintings, or illustrations to a 'Garlands of Ragas,' represent a uniquely Indian amalgamation of music, poetry, and painting. Often translated as 'modes' or 'melody types,' ragas are tonal frames that provide a set structure (scales, center tone, progressions, and so forth) for a piece of music that can then be improvised on according to the style of the musician. In literature, each musical mode is personified in a male (raga) or female (ragini) form, referring to earlier classifications of lovers and heroes and heroines. Moods and seasons associated with musical modes were incorporated into literary descriptions, which in turn formed the basis for paintings. In Madhu Madhavi Ragini, the sense of joyous anticipation is heightened by the time of day--early evening--and by the rain and lightning that characterize the monsoon season. The sense of drama is intensified by the woman's startled reactiontothe bolt of lightning and the birds flying in the sky above her head. All of these characteristics are commonly associated in love literature throughout India with Abhisarika Nayika, the one who braves all obstacles to be with her lover.