Art

Raja Balwant Singh's Hunt

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Attributed to Nainsukh
Indian
Raja Balwant Singh's Hunt, February/March 1752
Painting
Indian
,
18th century
Creation Place: Jasrota, Kashmir, India
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Sheet: 29.3 x 39.9 cm (11 9/16 x 15 11/16 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
, 1957.98
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
,
Description
This scene takes place on the scenic banks of the river Tawi in the state of Jammu in northern India. Wearing a dark green jama, Raja Balwant Singh, king of Jasrota, leans forward with a sword in one hand to defend his elephant from an attacking lion. The scene is packed with intense action, all the retainers on foot and on horseback rushing forward to help. The mahaout elephant trainer is poised to push the elephant goad into the head of the lion. The sparse setting gives little clue to the foreground violence: the landscape is bare, dotted with just a few palash trees. The chaotic scene is witnessed by a distant hawk, who circles through the sky above.

Nainsukh was one of the most famous artists working in the Punjab Hills. Balwant Singh comissioned numerous portraits from Nainsukh, ranging from scenes of state audiences and royal hunts to intimate moments in the life of the ruler.
(label text from Sport of Kings exhibition January 2005).
Bibliography
Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks Northern Indian Painting from Two Traditions, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1965), page 80/figure 36

Exhibition History
Out of the Hills: Miniature Painting from Himalayan India, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/26/1984 - 07/08/1984
The Sport of Kings: Art of the Hunt in Iran and India, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/22/2005 - 06/26/2005