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Posthumous portrait of Maharana Ari Singh (r. 1761 - 73) hunting deer. Udaipur, circa second half 19th century. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 37.2 x 47.9cm
In the manner of paintings first produced for Maharana Sarup Singh (r. 1842-61) by royal court artists Tara and Shivalal, also their follower Parashuram.This painting responds to one made for Ari Singh (see below); its stylistic traits, large size, lavish use of gold leaf and the profusion of minutely rendered detail indicate that it was produced by a court artist or artists and that Tara and Shivalal otherwise Parashuram likely also painted this.
There is strong evidence that this composition is based on a painting produced for Maharana Ari Singh during his reign (1761-1773), published in Topsfield, A., Court Painting at Udaipur: Art Under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar, 2008, Fig. 182. A boar hunt in the original here becomes a deer hunt, but the deer felled by Ari Singh is depicted in exactly the same wounded position as is the boar. The maharana’s position is also identical, with him turning 180 degrees to shoot directly behind him, the barrel of his rifle lowered as he does so. Near identical except for colour is the horse in each. The only significant differences are in that the action is reversed in mirror image, and the horse's trappings are more detailed unlike the landscape which is here pared down and for the most part a flat plane.
The inscription on the upper border identifies the figure as Maharajadhiraja Maharana Shri 108 Ari Singh Ji (king of kings, Maharana Shri 108 Ari Singh Ji). On the reverse the inscription also refers to Ari Singh and also chit__ro perhaps in reference to the kill, cheetal being the name for a particular Indian spotted deer.
With thanks to Tarun Pant for kindly translating the inscritions.
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Above: gilt detail reflecting light
Images and text © Peter Blohm