Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Maharaja Sital Dev in Devotion

ca. 1690
India (Punjab Hills, Basohli)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and silver on paper
Image: 5 5/8 x 4 5/8 in. (14.3 x 11.7 cm) Page: 7 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. (18.4 x 15.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, 2000
Accession Number:
Not on view
The image of the blind raja Sital Dev stands apart from other dynastic portraits. Here, the focus is on his private devotion, as he sits holding a mala (rosary) and reciting mantras. Not only is he unattended, but his surroundings are simple and stripped of the iconography of kingship. The immediacy and poignancy of the depiction is surprising since it dates to more than thirty years after Sital Dev’s death and reflects the subdued Basohli style of this later period. For the patron who commissioned this work, it was the maharaja’s spiritual quest that was important, rather than his standing as a ruler.
Inscription: Inscribed above in takri script: sri raj sital mankotia; similar Persian inscription on reverse in a late hand (with various takri numerals and inscription)
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "The Art of India and Pakistan," 1947–48.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Pursuits at the Hindu Courts," 2002–2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paintings in the Punjab Hills," 2003.

New York. Asia Society. "In the Realm of Gods and Kings: Arts of India, Selections from the Polsky Collections and The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 14, 2004–December 10, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painting in the Punjab Hills," November 20, 2007–March 16, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Devotion in Indian Painting: A Curatorial Legacy," June 15, 2016–December 4, 2016.

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