Private Collection, USA
Maharaja Man Singh of Jodhpur (r. 1803-43) rides his gaily caparisoned horse, with attendants on foot accompanying him, in front of a large hill. Dressed all in white, his main adornment is his high-peaked yellow and red turban. He holds the reins with his left hand and strokes his horse’s neck with his right. Attendants on foot carry morchhal, silver sticks and chowrie as appropriate. The horse is beautifully decorated as was usual in Jodhpur painting, not only with its mane plaited and decorated with coloured fillets, but with coloured streamers attached to its bridle, and painted decorations round its body, the lower half of which as well as the legs have been painted red with henna. The group is passing a large hill, its lower rocks rendered in blue with flowers and grasses growing in the cracks between the rocks. It must be of some significance but there is no inscription to tell us.
Crill writes (2000, p. 140) that there were many hundreds of equestrian portraits produced in Man Singh’s reign, some splendid, to which the static formality of the Man Singh style lent itself very well. Her figs. 114 and 115 are fine examples from around 1820. Our more restrained painting is closer to an equestrian portrait of the freebooter Amir Khan in the V&A Museum from around 1815 (ibid., fig. 95). This is indeed a very restrained painting by the standards of Man Singh’s usual portraits, which show him either in frantic activity or else static in elaborate durbars or in garden scenes with his women. For a full account of the paintings of his reign and its troubled history, see Crill 2000, chapter 4.
Crill, R., Marwar Painting: A History of the Jodhpur Style, India Book House Ltd., Bombay, 2000
EXPERT : J. P. Losty
J. P. Losty was for many years curator of Indian visual materials in the British Library in London and has published many books and articles on painting in India from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
Artiana would like to thank J. P. Losty for his expertise and assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.