Raja Balwant Singh's Hunt
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1957.98
People
Attributed to Nainsukh, Indian
Title
Raja Balwant Singh's Hunt
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
February/March 1752
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Kashmir, Jasrota
Culture
Indian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
Sheet: 29.3 x 39.9 cm (11 9/16 x 15 11/16 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
Accession Year
1957
Object Number
1957.98
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
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).

Label Text: The Sport of Kings: Art of the Hunt in Iran and India, written 2005
Attributed to Nainsukh
Raja Balwant Singh’s Hunt
India, Jasrota, 1752
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Friends of the Fogg Art Museum Fund
1957.98

This scene takes place on the scenic banks of the river Tawi in the state of Jammu in northern India. Wearing a dark green jāmā, 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 mahout (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 palāsh 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 commissioned numerous portraits from Nainsukh, ranging from scenes of state audiences and royal hunts to intimate moments in the life of the ruler.

Label Text: Indian Miniatures From the Plains and the Hills, written 1979
6. RAJA BALWANT SINGH OF JAMMU DEFENDING HIS ELEPHANT FROM A LION, probably by Nainsukh, Jammu; dated February-March 1752.
Fogg Art Museum Collection - 1957.98

Raja Balwant Singh is here shown, sword in hand, fighting off the advances of an enraged lion. His artist Nainsukh, originally from Guler, was among the most influential of the Pahari painters. His interest and skill in individual portraiture is apparent in the treatment given the members of the hunting retinue. The use of strong colors contained within finely drawn lines lends a remarkable clarity to the work typical of the best of these Hill paintings.

Publication History

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

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted