Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

A Syce Holding Two Carriage Horses

Painting attributed to Shaykh Muhammad Amir of Karraya (active 1830s–40s)
Object Name:
Illustrated single work
ca. 1845
India, Calcutta
Colonial British
Opaque watercolor on paper
H. 12 in. (30.5 cm) W. 20 in. (50.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art and Rogers Fund, 1994
Accession Number:
Not on view
This near-mirror image of a syce, or groom, flanked by almost identical horses has a hypnotic and disquieting quality. The strict symmetry is relieved, however, by subtle differences in the sizes, proportions, and harnessing of the horses, as well as by slight left-right variations in the posture and dress of the groom. Although the color is severely restricted, the artist has beautifully realized the feel of Indian light, and the low horizon line makes both the space and the foreground trio appear truly monumental. The painting’s beauty and subtlety testify to the high quality that late Company School artists could attain.
Robert Edward Master, Esq., England; [ Terence McInerney, New York, until 1994; sold to MMA]
Pal, Pratapaditya. Changing Visions, Lasting images: Calcutta Through 300 Years, edited by Pratapaditya Pal. P. Pal. edition ed. Bombay: Marg Publications, 1990. pp. 134-135.

Kossak, Steven M., ed. Indian Court Painting 16th–19th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 81, pp. 130-131, ill. (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 287, pp. 342, 402-403, ill. p. 402 (color).

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