A Beloved Stallion
Of the many animals featured within this extraordinary state procession, the maharana’s stallion Sabtash takes pride of place. Two artists, a father and a son, created the effect of a velveteen cheek and muzzle by applying fine, concentrated brushstrokes over an opaque layer of pigment. The engorged veins threading across Sabtash’s cheek express vigor and exertion.
The maharana and his stallion epitomize regal composure, yet chaos simmers in the painting’s lower register. Hooves fly and furtive glances
abound as a tightly packed group of mounted nobles and nervous footmen attempt to rein in the disturbance.
—Pippa Mott, graduate student, NYU
Pride of Place
Horses take pride of place in this extraordinary state ceremony. An inscription on the painting’s verso identifies dozens of horses by name, color, and facial markings. The artist Bakhta crafted unique behaviors, accoutrements, and physical traits for the mounts, reflecting their special status within the Rajput world.
The King’s Stallion
Bakhta spared no detail in depicting Bhim Singh’s exquisite stallion, Sabtash. There is something curious about his coloration: the vivid vermilion that illuminates his coat from midline to hooves is, in fact, henna dye.
You can see how the artist created the effect of Sabtash’s velveteen cheek and muzzle by applying fine, concentrated brushstrokes over an opaque layer of pigment. The engorged veins that branch and thread across his cheek are an expression of vigor and exertion, afforded only to Sabtash.
When in synergy with its rider, a horse’s ears swivel backward in anticipation of the slightest variation of command. In this painting, the horses’ ears are predominately arranged in this manner, declaring a high degree of equestrian ability among the Rajput nobles, even among their youngest ranks.
However, a ripple of disturbance infiltrates the rhythmic and regimented order of the cavalcade. The unrest runs from left to right across the lower central register of the painting. Hooves fly and furtive glances dart as a tightly packed group of mounted nobles and nervous footmen attempt to rein in the situation.