A Syce Holding Two Carriage Horses

Artist: Painting attributed to Shaykh Muhammad Amir of Karraya (active 1830s–40s)

Object Name: Illustrated single work

Date: ca. 1845

Geography: India, Calcutta

Culture: Colonial British

Medium: Opaque watercolor on paper

Dimensions: H. 12 in. (30.5 cm)
W. 20 in. (50.8 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art and Rogers Fund, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.280


This near-mirror image of a syce, or groom, flanked by almost identical horses has a hypnotic and disquieting quality. The strict symmetry is relieved, however, by subtle differences in the sizes, proportions, and harnessing of the horses, as well as by slight left-right variations in the posture and dress of the groom. Although the color is severely restricted, the artist has beautifully realized the feel of Indian light, and the low horizon line makes both the space and the foreground trio appear truly monumental. The painting’s beauty and subtlety testify to the high quality that late Company School artists could attain.