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301

PROPERTY FROM THE LANIER COLLECTION

THE EMPEROR HUMAYUN ON A HUNTING EXPEDITION
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 15,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
301

PROPERTY FROM THE LANIER COLLECTION

THE EMPEROR HUMAYUN ON A HUNTING EXPEDITION
Estimate
15,00020,000
LOT SOLD. 15,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

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New York

THE EMPEROR HUMAYUN ON A HUNTING EXPEDITION
Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper
image: 8½ by 5¼ in. (20.3 by 12.7 cm)
folio: 9 by 5¾ in. (22.8 by 12.7 cm)
India, Early Mughal (possibly at Kabul), circa 1575
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Provenance

Acquired mid-1980's

Catalogue Note

The Mughal Emperor Humayun - father of the future Emperor Akbar - seated outdoors in a hilly landscape, kneeling on a floral-patterned carpet and petting his hunting hawk.  In an encampment with a lapis, red and white tented canopy with floral and arabesque designs and a brilliant orange-vermilion fringe.  A courtier stands with another raptor on his gloved hand - he wears a distinctive heron-feather plume (a kalgi) projecting from his turban - as does a groom as well as the Emperor's horse.  The Emperor's face and pointed beard are finely delineated in black ink and are not idealized as is seen in later Mughal depictions of him.

Our painting marks the discovery of a rare early work executed in a proto-Mughal style from the reign of Humayun (r. 1531-40 and 1555-56) likely painted either during the Emperor's exile at Kabul (prior to his final return to India) or just after that in Delhi circa 1555.  It is a remarkable addition to the very small corpus of paintings extant from that period.  

The manner of costume and figure depictions with cone-shaped turban styles are distinctive to the reign of Humayun. The nim qalam (partly-painted) stylized rock formations tinged with mauve, lapis arabesques, shapes and colors of the tree blossoms at the upper left as well as the monochromatic natural buff background - all suggest a date in the Mid Sixteenth Century.  Our painting shows influences from the Bukhara school.  Some repainting as has been noted as in other works known from this period, see John Seyller "Recycled Images: Overpainting in Early Mughal Art," in Sheila Canby (ed.), Humayun's Garden Party: Princes of the House of Timur and Early Mughal Painting, Mumbai, 1994, pp.69-76. Applied onto a trimmed later backing with yellow and red outer ruled lines. 

For an interesting comparison see 'Prince Akbar and Noblemen Hawking' attributed to the artist 'Abd al-Samad circa 1555-58, lent by the Ralph and Cathy Benkaim Collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibition "Master Painters of India, 1100-1900." This work depicts a young Prince Akbar and was probably executed a few years after our own painting - it does share many characteristics like the nim qalam treatment of mauve-tinged boulders and rock formations (possibly from the same hand as the landscape in our painting) with contrasting orange-vermilion flourishes as well as the general preference for the subject of hunting. 

Several paintings from the Fitzwilliam Album in the Collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge offer insight into the development of early Mughal painting - from its origins in Persia (Bukhara) through the reign of Humayun to the beginning of the Akbar period, see M. C. Beach, Early Mughal Painting, New York, 1987, pp. 17-49.

Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art Including Property from The Cleveland Museum of Art

|
New York