This finely-rendered painting in opaque watercolour heightened with gold and silver within a red border and on paper shows the ruthless ruler Maharaja Bhim Singh of Jodhpur (ruled 1793-1803) in audience.
The painting is inscribed on the reverse with several lines of what appears to be devanagari script but longer is this easily legible.
The bejewelled Maharaja, who is aged probably around thirty, is shown seated against a cushion on a terrace with three attendants behind him and consenting to an audience of two visitors perhaps two chiefs of the Kumpavat clan of Chandawal. The two visitors wear the tall turbans of the Kumpavat clan. The Maharaja and his attendants seem to have adopted a similar turban style.
The attendants hold the Maharaja’s morchhal (a tall fan of peacock feathers), tulwar sword and shield.
The Maharaja sits on a floorspread on a marble terrace with a marble balustrade and beneath a high canopy of printed or woven cloth.
Each of the figures is finely dressed in white flowing robes.
Lush, green shrubbery, perhaps mango trees, can be seen beyond the balustrade and a lake – probably the lake at Kishangarh, can be seen beyond this, with the other shore of the lake towards the horizon.
The supports for the canopy are in silver. The Maharaja’s nimbus, the edges of the floorspread and canopy canopy, the robes each figure wears, and so on, are all highlighted in gold.
Bhim Singh was a grandson of Maharaja Bijay Singh. He moved to gain the throne in 1793 by having male relatives with more claim to it murdered. His young cousin Man Singh was the only survivor and he succeeded him.
See a slighter later painting of Maharaja Bhim Singh recently at Christie’s. And a painting with a related theme and setting to ours here from the James Ivory collection is illustrated in Losty (2010, p. 196).
The painting here has been with the one London family for at least most of the last century. It is in excellent condition.
Crill, R., & K. Jariwala, The Indian Portrait 1560-1860, National Portrait Gallery, 2010.
Jackson, A., & A. Jaffer, Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts, V&A Publishing, 2009.
Losty, J.P, Indian Miniatures: From the James Ivory Collection, Francesca Galloway, 2010.
Topsfield, A., Indian Paintings from Oxford Collections, University of Oxford, 1994.