Bhavanidas (Indian, active ca. 1700–1748)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H. 22 7/8 in. (58.1 cm), W. 15 1/8 in. (38.4 cm)
Louis V. Bell Fund, 2003 (2003.430)
The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and his royal hunting party are shown here in one of the final grand imperial images from the age of the great Mughals. Preparations for the chase are in progress, evident from the row of hunters in the foreground and others who lead deer as bait or carry leafy screens for camouflage. The emperor upon his jeweled palanquin, with a stooped profile and a gray beard, resembles the few other known images of him as an old man. In the far distance, the army on the march carries numerous flags, including the rarely represented Mughal fish standard (mahi-o-maratib). Hunting scenes were a well-established genre in Mughal painting; at least three other compositions of the period show Aurangzeb in pursuit of wild prey. Early in his career, the artist Bhavanidas executed several important commissions for Mughal patrons. He later moved to the Rajput court of Kishangarh, where he became its preeminent artist and founded its famous school of painting.