Shah Jahan Hunting Blackbuck with Trained Cheetahs

Western India, Rajasthan, Udaipur

Not on view

This is one of a small group of refined, naturalistic paintings in the Mughal manner made at the Mewar court at Udaipur, Rajasthan, in the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the reign of the Maharana Sangram Singh (r. 1710–34). This work is unusual because it commemorates a hunt that occurred in the middle of the previous century: the portrait of the equestrian rider appears to be that of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor (r. 1628–58). Paintings alluding to former Mughal emperors were made at a number of Rajput courts in the eighteenth century, when artists were perhaps inspired by Mughal works that had entered those princely collections over the previous half century, as recent studies of court studio inventories, including Udaipur, have demonstrated.

The Mughal emperor is seen on horseback entering the scene upper left accompanied by his huntsmen (shikaris) on foot. They are mostly dressed in hunting green and stalk the prey, a herd of deer with trained cheetahs, through a landscape of undulating rocky hillocks and light foliage. The deer have likely been drinking at the silvered pool but now scatter as they become aware of the hunt. One has already fallen prey to a cheetah.

Shah Jahan Hunting Blackbuck with Trained Cheetahs, Ink, gold, and opaque watercolor on paper, Western India, Rajasthan, Udaipur

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