Maharao Umed Singh hunting tigers

Artist: Hans Raj Joshi (1750-1799)
Historical period(s)
Kota school
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 43.2 × 70.2 cm (17 × 27 5/8 in) H x W (framed): 61.6 × 86 cm (24 1/4 × 33 7/8 in)
India, Rajasthan state, Kota
Credit Line
Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


hunting, India, portrait, raja, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, tiger

To 1971
Indian Arts Palace, New Delhi [1]

From 1971 to 2001
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001), purchased from Indian Arts Palace, New Delhi in December 1971 [2]

From 2001 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, by inheritance from Ralph Benkaim in 2001

From 2018
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim


[1] According to information from Catherine Glynn Benkaim.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Indian Arts Palace
Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Ralph and Catherine Benkaim


Recto: in devanagari script: maharaja dhiraja maharaja maharao raja sri umed singhji bahadur his
Courageous king of kings, great king Umed Singh
Verso: in devanagari script: samvat 1844 vasakih sudi 14, hitvarah din ki jp dim (?) kul thak ajai nahan ghoghari mari…Joshi Hans Raj chuterako, ji ho
Samvat 1844 (1787 CE), fourteenth day of Caisakh, Sunday…killed the…animals.
Painting by Hans Raj Joshi


Royal hunts were symbolically important expressions of kingship within the Ancient Near East, Persia and India. Beginning around 1660, artists in Kota began creating extraordinary images of rulers hunting game, which through to the mid-eighteenth century deployed calligraphic contour lines to render animals with great vivacity in highly textured landscapes. This later hunt scene deploys solid blocks of color - lavender, salmon, orange and teal - that play off the textured sage greens of the forest. The composition demands that the viewer search through the foliage for a tiger represented multiple times in a way that perhaps evokes the act of looking for game in the jungle. On the right, a tiger mauls one of the servants of the hunt. At top center, a nobleman, probably the powerful Zalim Singh, shoots from a a hunting platform at the tiger. The tiger subsequently appears on the left, charging towards Umed Singh, with white halo and dressed in camouflage green, who shoots from a hunting platform. Visible above and below the tiger is the lattice-work enclosure that was built to drive game towards the ruler.
The knobby lavender rocks, which appear in other Kota hunt scenes, suggest that the location is the hunting grounds of Kaithun.

Published References
  • Vishakha Nirubhai Desai. Life at Court: Art for India's Rulers, 16th-19th century. Exh. cat. Boston, Massachusetts. 49, 60-61.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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