Maharana Amar Singh II Riding a Jodhpur Horse

Attributed to Stipple Master (Indian, active ca. 1690–1715)

ca. 1700–10
India (Udaipur, Rajasthan)
Opaque watercolor and ink on paper
Page: 14 11/16 x 12 1/8 in. (37.3 x 30.8 cm) Image: 13 3/16 x 10 3/4 in. (33.5 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2002
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Numerous pictures exist that depict Amar Singh on horseback with attendants, clearly one of the Stipple Master’s favorite subjects. In such works, the focus is on the main subject, the horse, painted a radiant blue. The foreground is marked by only a few tufts of grass, and in the background, beyond the lightly shaded crest of the hill, there are a temple and a palace pleasure garden. The understated technique displayed by this artist has echoes of the Persian–Mughal painting technique of nim qalam, half-tone painting, a variant of European grisaille techniques of tonal painting.

    About the Artist

    Stipple Master
    Active at the Court of Amar Singh II, Udaipur, ca. 1690–1715

    Following the pioneering career of Sahibdin, painters in Udaipur, Rajasthan, mainly reproduced illustrations for religious manuscripts based on his compositions. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, an artist arrived at the court who would establish a style that persisted for nearly thirty years under the prince and later ruler Amar Singh II (r. 1698–1710) and his successor Maharana Sangram Singh II (r. 1710–1734). He is identified as the Stipple Master. The style of this anonymous artist remained a singular phenomenon at the court. He favored a nearly monochrome approach, a style with precedents in both Mughal and Deccan painting, the nim qalam technique. Amar Singh likely became aware of the technique through exposure to Mughal examples. It is also documented that the ruler was interested in paintings from Bundi and Kota, and therefore, works from those places, influenced by the Chunar Ragamala Masters provided another avenue of Mughalesque influence.

    The range of subjects that can be attributed to the Stipple Master makes it clear that he had direct access to his patron. Included are intimate scenes that show him in his pleasure gardens in reverie, in his summer pavilions, or in the palace with the women of his harem. The artist’s work dates mainly from the reign of Amar Singh II, and its stylistic uniformity suggests that patron and painter — as Catherine Glynn put it — had a “shared vision.”

    The Stipple Master’s palette is very limited. As a rule, only the figures and portions
    of the architecture or flora and fauna are set off in color, while the background remains
    for the most part minimally defined or in some passages, unpainted altogether. One
    work that according to its inscription shows the ruler in front of his picture gallery in
    Rajnagar combines the artist’s stylistic features; the prince’s women are lined
    up against an untreated background, drawing the viewer’s gaze to Amar Singh II, who
    is depicted on a larger scale that reflects his importance.

    The style that the Stipple Master practiced seems to have fallen out of favor during
    the end of the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and by looking at paintings produced
    at the royal atelier for Sangram Singh II, one quickly understands that more grand
    and more complex compositions began to dominate the output of painting at Udaipur.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History