Bakhat Singh Holds a Pink Rose

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Geography:
Made in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Marwar, India, Asia

Period:
Marwar region

Date:
c. 1750

Medium:
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Dimensions:
Image: 12 9/16 × 10 1/16 inches (31.9 × 25.6 cm) Sheet: 13 5/8 × 11 1/8 inches (34.6 × 28.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
2004-149-48

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2004

Social Tags [?]

There are currently no user tags associated with this object.


[Add Your Own Tags]

Label:
Bakhat Singh's life epitomizes the intrigue that permeated court life. A son of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur, he murdered his father in 1724 so his elder brother could take over the kingdom. As a reward, Bakhat Singh was given the small neighboring state of Nagaur, which he ruled until he succeeded to the Jodhpur throne in 1751, just after this picture was painted and the year before he himself was poisoned. Rajasthani rulers were often depicted in large-scale, head-and-shoulders portraits, a format adopted from Mughal painting. However, the Rajput artists eliminated shading and emphasized outline and pattern to produce a more ideal and schematic portrayal. Only a few important individual traits were retained so the king could still be recognized. Here, the artist has carefully depicted Bakhat Singh's uncommonly heavy mustache and flat, Marwar-style turban.

Additional information:
  • PublicationIntimate Worlds: Indian Paintings from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection

    Bakhat Singh wears a pale pink, long-sleeved garment, decorated with green leafy sprigs, many gems and pearls, and a printed cotton turban worn in the style of Marwar. He commands an extraordinary mustache. A son of Maharaja Ajit Singh of Jodhpur, Bakhat Singh was born in 1706, murdered his father at the behest of an older brother in 1724, and ruled Nagaur (as a reward for the parricide) until he succeeded to the throne of Jodhpur in 1751.1 James Tod, the English chronicler of eighteenth-century Rajasthan, reports that Bakhat Singh was poisoned the following year.2

    In a portrait from about 1730, painted while he was at Nagaur, Bakhat Singh wears a similar set of jewelry and a similarly decorated jama, but he is gracefully thin.3 As in the Bellak painting, he holds a rose and sports a mustache. In a painting made in about 1740, Bakhat Singh has gained a few more pounds, his heavy eyelids are more obvious, and his mustache has grown considerably.4 A painting of Bakhat Singh that Rosemary Crill dates to 1751-52 shows the maharaja even stockier but with the same mustache as in the Bellak painting.5

    Large-scale Mughal portraits that include the head and part of the shoulders of the subjects were first seen in the middle of the seventeenth century6 and continued on into the eighteenth.7 These Mughal paintings are normally drawings with touches of color and very finely executed details such as hair and textile patterns. One of the earliest Jodhpur adaptations of this type of portrait is a posthumous work from c. 1670 of the Bakhat Singh’s great-grandfather Maharaja Gaj Singh (reigned 1619-38).7 There the Jodhpur artist adapted the Mughal prototype, keeping the large size and format, but emphasizing outline and pattern, which resulted in a flatter, more stylized image. During the ensuing century, as Marwari artists continued to make these large portraits, they dispensed with shading almost completely. Ellen Smart, from Intimate Worlds: Indian Painting from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection (2001), pp. 132-133.

    1. Andrew Topsfield and Milo Cleveland Beach. Indian Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin. Exh. cat. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 72, no. 26.
    2. James Tod. Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, or the Central and Western Rajput States of India. Edited by William Crooke. 1920; reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1971, vol. 2, p. 867.
    3. Howard Hodgkin Collection; see Andrew Topsfield and Milo Cleveland Beach. Indian Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin. Exh. cat. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 73, no. 26.
    4. Goenka Collection; see ibid., p. 72, fig. 4; and Rosemary Crill. Marwar Paintings: A History of the Jodhpur Style. Mumbai: India Book House Limited, 1999, p. 92, fig. 67.
    5. Private collection; see ibid., p. 92, fig. 68.
    6. For example, see the portrait of Iltifat Khan in the Howard Hodgkin Collection; 16 15/16 x 12 7/16 inches (43 x 31.6 cm); in Andrew Topsfield and Milo Cleveland Beach. Indian Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Howard Hodgkin. Exh. cat. London: Thames and Hudson, 1991, p. 45, no. 12.
    7. For example, see Victoria and Albert Museum, London, I.M. 36-1922; 11 x 7 1/8 inches (28 x 18.1 cm); in John Guy and Deborah Swallow, eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1990, p. 107, fig. 89.
    8. National Museum, New Delhi, c. 1670; see Rosemary Crill. Marwar Painting: A History of the Jodhpur Style. Mumbai: India Book House Limited, 1999, frontispiece; p. 41, fig. 19.