Great Indian Fruit Bat

Artist: Painting attributed to Bhawani Das or a follower

Object Name: Illustrated single work

Date: ca. 1777–82

Geography: Made in India, Calcutta

Medium: Pencil, ink, and opaque watercolor on paper

Dimensions: Painting: Ht. 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm)
W. 32 3/4 in. (83.2 cm)
Mat size: Ht. 27 1/4 in. (69.2 cm)
W. 35 1/2 in. (90.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, Virginia G. LeCount Bequest, in memory of The LeCount Family, 2007 Benefit Fund, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2008

Accession Number: 2008.312


This dramatic image is of the great Indian fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus) frontally displayed with one wing out-stretched. The body is shown in considerable detail, with the bat’s fur, eyes, curling claws, and wing veins naturalistically articulated. This work is closely related to another image of a bat painted by the well-known artist Bhawani Das, who was trained in Mughal miniature painting and commissioned by Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice of Bengal (1774–1782), and his wife, Lady Mary, to make extensive natural history studies at their estate in Calcutta. It was perhaps made by a follower of Bhawani Das who worked in a slightly more naturalistic mode.