The Young Maharaja Karan Singh of Bikaner
Artist/maker unknown, India
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The artist began this portrait by making a complete drawing with fine brushstrokes. He then began to apply color-translucent washes on the shoes, sword sheath, and dagger hilt indicate that they were to be red. The turban is opaquely painted but its details and final burnishing are incomplete; only the face is finished, including the raised white dots that indicate the royal pearl earrings. The artist has painted directly on the buff-colored paper rather than covering it with white primer. This technique of using translucent washes and occasional opaque highlights to tint the natural paper was popular for a variety of subjects in Persian, Mughal, and Rajput painting. Such lightly tinted drawings of simple subjects were also made as studies for more grandiose court portraits. In this painting, the young Maharaja Karan Singh stands in a pose typical of Mughal portraits: head in profile, shoulders almost frontal, one hand raised to hold a flower, one foot slightly in front of the other.