India (Rajasthan, Jhilai)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; 11 3/8 x 15 7/8 in. (28.4 x 40.3 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1996 (1996.100.4)
Jhilai, a feudatory state of Jaipur, was small but important, since its rulers were next in succession to the throne of Jaipur if the main line proved without issue. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, a significant but little-known style of painting seems to have flourished in Jhilai, probably representing the work of a single artist. This painting is perhaps the finest of his known works. The strong colors favored by the Jaipur school are here tempered into sober fields of black, gray, and green, and the classical balance typical of that school gives way to a more mannered treatment. The Jhilai artist has created a dynamic composition of taut forms and bold surface patterns; its elements, both distant and close, are described with crystalline clarity. The breadth and geometric severity of the extraordinarily large lake palace act as a foil for the staccato rhythms of the troop of hunters.