Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Great Indian Fruit Bat

Painting attributed to Bhawani Das or a follower
Object Name:
Illustrated single work
ca. 1777–82
Made in India, Calcutta
Colonial British
Pencil, ink, and opaque watercolor on paper
Painting: Ht. 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm) W. 32 3/4 in. (83.2 cm) Mat size: Ht. 27 1/4 in. (69.2 cm) W. 35 1/2 in. (90.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, Virginia G. LeCount Bequest, in memory of The LeCount Family, 2007 Benefit Fund, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
This dramatic image is of the great Indian fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus) frontally displayed with one wing out-stretched. The body is shown in considerable detail, with the bat’s fur, eyes, curling claws, and wing veins naturalistically articulated. This work is closely related to another image of a bat painted by the well-known artist Bhawani Das, who was trained in Mughal miniature painting and commissioned by Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice of Bengal (1774–1782), and his wife, Lady Mary, to make extensive natural history studies at their estate in Calcutta. It was perhaps made by a follower of Bhawani Das who worked in a slightly more naturalistic mode.
Niall Hobhouse, London (by 2001–8; cat., 2001, no. 2); Niall Hobhouse sale, Christie's, London, May 22, 2008, no. 8, to MMA
"Thursday, March 22, 2008." In The Niall Hobhouse Collection. London: Christie's, London, 2008. no. 8.

"A Selection: 2008–2010." Recent Acquisitions vol. 68, no. 2 (Fall 2010). p. 44.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 285, pp. 342, 400-401, ill. p. 400 (color).

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