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Study for Rao Ram Singh I Hunting Rhinoceros on an Elephant

Attributed to the Kota Master Indian

Not on view

Likely a study for a more well-known color version of the subject, this extraordinary drawing embodies all the drama of the greatest works of the Kota school. An elephant pursuing a fleeing rhinoceros grips the smaller animal with an outstretched trunk. Two huntsmen, one of whom is the ruler of Kota, Ram Singh I (r. 1667–88), hold tenaciously onto the elephant’s harnesses as they thrust a lance and shoot arrows into the distressed rhino. The artist’s masterful evocation of speed—from the windswept elephant trappings to the wildly ringing bells—along with the sheer mass of the beasts thundering across our vision contribute to the drawing’s sense of unstoppable power. The huntsmen appear almost unnecessary as the elephant concentrates on securing the kill; note, for example, how the goad, used to control and direct the animal, is tucked into the harnessing, unused.

Study for Rao Ram Singh I Hunting Rhinoceros on an Elephant, Attributed to the Kota Master (Indian, active early 18th century), Ink with touches of color over charcoal underdrawing on paper, Western India, Rajasthan, Kota

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