Maharana Sarup Singh Inspects a Prize Stallion

Artist: Tara (Indian, active 1836–1870)

Date: 1845–46

Culture: Western India, Rajasthan, Mewar

Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Image (painting): 16 3/4 x 22 3/4 in. (42.5 x 57.8 cm)
Sheet: 19 x 24 7/8 in. (48.3 x 63.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky Fund, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.344


The artist Tara, who worked primarily during the reign of Sarup Singh (r. 1842–61), maharana of Mewar, often employed formal perspectival devices to bring structure to his large-scale paintings. In this grand picture of a tented camp, we see the maharana being presented with a prize stallion, perhaps a gift to mark his birthday. The inscription on the reverse refers to the horse by name but makes no reference to the event being celebrated. The ruler and his courtiers, along with a troupe of female singers and dancers with musicians, all wear pink dress—even the attendants have donned pink turbans, and the stallion and hunting dog pink blankets—a curious feature that must reflect this special but unidentified occasion. Tara’s work stands at the threshold between late Indian painting traditions and early experiments in photography. Both of his two sons trained under him as painters, and the younger, Mohanlal, became a well-known photographer in the 1870s.