An Encounter At A Well
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1972.350
People
Unknown Artist
Title
An Encounter at a Well
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1745
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Rajasthan, Kishangarh
Culture
Indian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
actual: 29.1 x 17.2 cm (11 7/16 x 6 3/4 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
Accession Year
1972
Object Number
1972.350
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: From India's Hills and Plains: Rajput Painting from the Punjab and Rajasthan, 17th through 19th Centuries, written 1993
An Encounter at a Well
Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca. 1740-50
Opaque watercolor on paper
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
1972.350

Label Text: Hot as Curry - Subtle as Moonlight: Masterpieces of Rajput Painting, written 1991
An Encounter at a Well
Rajasthan, Kishangarh; ca. 1740–1750
Opaque watercolor on paper
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
1972.350

Label Text: Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks - Revisited: Northern Indian Miniatures from two Traditions, Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, written 1990
An Encounter at a Well
Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca. 1740 – 50
Opaque watercolor on paper
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
1972.350

Label Text: Rasika, the Discerning Connoisseur: Indian Paintings from the John Kenneth Galbraith Collection, written 1998
An Encounter at a Well
Rajasthan, Kishangarh, ca. 1740-50
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
1972.350

In most Indian tales of romance, love is instantaneous and at first sight. A princely figure stops by a village well and is offered water by a lovely young woman. Their eyes meet and they become transfixed. A streak of lightning crossing the darkened sky mirrors the sudden intensity of this event.
Under the rulers Raj Singh (r. 1706-48) and his son Sawant Singh (r. 1748-57), devotional poetry and paintings of the allegorical union of Krishna and Radha predominated. The subtle use of color, shading, and atmospheric perspective, coupled with the inclusion of tiny vignettes (such as the group of bullock carts passing in the distance) remind us of the close artistic and political ties of Kishangarh to the Mughal court.

Label Text: The Sensuous and the Sublime, written 2001
An Encounter at a Well
India, Rajasthan, Kishangarh, c. 1740-50
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith
1972.350

Label Text: Indian Miniatures From the Plains and the Hills, written 1979
9. ENCOUNTER AT A WELL
Rajasthan, Kishangarh; ca. 1740-50
Gift of John Kenneth Galbraith - 1972.350

The Muslim prince stopping at a village well and accepting water from a Hindu girl is a traditional Mughal theme, in this case executed at the Rajput court of Kishangarh. The raja of this court in the mid-eighteenth century, Sawant Singh, was a man of deeply poetic nature empathic to the elegant refinement of Mughal tastes. The subtle tonalities and precise drawing of this work combine to create a painting of dignified richness. The distant landscape stretching into the night evokes the romantic atmosphere for which Kishangarh painting is well known.

Label Text: Indian Paintings, written 1982
Rajasthan, Kishangarh; ca. 1740–1750
An Encounter at a Well
Gift – John Kenneth Galbraith 1972.350

Label Text: India: From Tribe to Court, written 1981
An encounter at a well.
Rajasthan Kishangarh, ca. 1740-50
Gift – John Kenneth Galbraith 1972.350 [draft]

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 31/figure 33

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 91/figure 98

Khoo Joo Ee, Kendi: Pouring Vessels in the University of Malaya Collection, Oxford University Press (NY) (New York, NY, 1991), fig. 2, pg. 2, b/w

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), page 150-151

[Reproduction only], Exposé (Essays from the Harvard Expository Writing Program), President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA, 1999 - 2000)., cover, color

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 35

Exhibition History

India: From Tribe to Court, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/01/1981 - 01/01/1981

Ambassador's Choice: The Galbraith Collection of Indian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 02/15/1986 - 04/06/1986

Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks - Revisited: Northern Indian Miniatures from two Traditions, Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/31/1990 - 06/10/1990

Hot as Curry - Subtle as Moonlight: Masterpieces of Rajput Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/02/1991 - 12/20/1991

From India's Hills and Plains: Rajput Painting from the Punjab and Rajasthan, 17th through 19th Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/04/1993 - 10/31/1993

Rasika, the Discerning Connoisseur: Indian Paintings from the John Kenneth Galbraith Collection, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/1998 - 04/05/1998

The Sensuous and the Sublime, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/07/2001 - 12/30/2001

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

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