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Portrait of Raja Kesari Singhji of Jodhpur on horseback

circa 1830


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Jodhpur Rajasthan India
    Cultural origin
    Marwar style
    circa 1830
    Media categories
    Painting , Watercolour
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour on paper
    27.2 x 20.3 sight; 47.0 x 37.6 x 1.8 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Margaret Olley 2000
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Portraits of the royal ruler and his associates were among the most popular of all Indian painting commissions. Under Mughal patronage, realistic portraits were preferred. However, they did not show concern for the effects of light and shade and instead emphasised the features of the face and clothing through detailed brush work.

    Once the outward form and the accompanying pictorial motifs, like a sword or a book used to indicate the ruler’s attributes, triumphs or character were established by a master they were copied by others thus establishing a convention and an easily recognisable portrait of the ruler. In this way portraits of nobility and courtiers were made within an established set of standard compositions. These forms even survived into the Company School patronised by the British rulers and officers of the East India Company.

    For instance, portraits set in the palace usually show the ruler against a plain background, standing looking out from a window, separated from his subjects, or relaxing seated against a bolster on a mat, maybe even smoking a hookah. In outdoor setting he might be seen mounted on a horse or elephant leading the hunt or battle as a sign of his power and leadership, or seated with a lover, holding a flower as a sign of his cultured and sensitive nature.

    This painting in the Marwari style depicts the rajah of Jodhpur on horseback, accompanied by an entourage of courtiers. The bold colours, strong linework and formal composition set against a flat background are typical of this style. The rajah wears the distinctive turban of the region, while his dappled horse is decorated with a patterned rug, tassels across his chest and ribbons in his mane. The painting conforms to a fairly standard format of equestrian portrait, and its static formality shows the influence of the Mughal style. The rulers of Jodhpur had a complex and uneasy relationship with their imperial overlords, nevertheless the Mughals had a profound impact on the art of this Rajput court.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications