Lot 258. A group of princes out hawking, Murshidabad, Provincial Mughal, North India, mid 18th century. Opaque pigments and gold on paper, backed on cream card Painting 10 3/8 x 15 7/8 ins. (27.7 x 40.3 cm.). Estimate USD 200,000 - USD 300,000. Price realised USD 543,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
Note: This beautiful illustration of a group of royal princes out hawking finds close comparison with a large landscape painting from Murshidabad in the Swinton Collection which depicts the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah (r.1719-48) hunting cranes with his hawks, attributable to the artist Chitarman, dating circa 1725-30 (Losty, 2017, p.799, no.35). Both paintings illustrate the hunting cavalcade in the foreground with the figures dressed in traditional green hunting attire. Covered wagons drawn by bullocks on the left, hawks attacking cranes mid-air on the right, and the background receding with distant views of hills and an imperial entourage marching through are elements common to both paintings.
The details rendered with extraordinary sensitivity, the landscape format and the use of perspective suggests that Murshidabad artists were familiar with the development of the imperial Mughal style in the mid-18th century and the popularity of large, detailed processional scenes towards the end of the reign of Muhammad Shah and that of his successor Ahmad Shah (r.1748-54). Our painting can also be compared to a processional scene portraying Mir Jafar Ali Khan on a hunting expedition with his son Miran, signed by the artist Purannath known as Hunhar II, painted Patna dating circa 1760, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, I.M. 13-1911 (Losty, 2014 p.88, fig. 5).