Monsoon Mood

Season 9
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Illustration of men riding horses in the water in a monsoon.

We think of paintings as art, but can they also be a source of data? Three hundred years ago, a young prince inherited the throne in Udaipur, India, and brought with him some newfangled ideas about art. His court artists created massive paintings that flew in the face of convention, documenting real life events, times, places, and even emotions—especially during the annual monsoon season. These paintings are so detailed that centuries later, they can serve as archival records to help understand our own changing climate.



  • Debra Diamond, Elizabeth Moynihan Curator for South Asian and Southeast Asian Art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art
  • Dipti Khera, associate professor, Department of Art History and Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
  • Mark Giordano, professor of geography and vice dean for undergraduate affairs at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service 

This episode was produced in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. The exhibition A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the museum’s founding and the 75th anniversary of Indian independence, is on view through May 14, 2023. Explore more on the theme of Art and the Environment in Asian art.

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