A Mounted Prince Hunting Lion in a Rocky Landscape

A Mounted Prince Hunting Lion in a Rocky Landscape

c. 1600

Khem Karan

(Indian)

Opaque watercolor on paper

Page: 33 x 22.2 cm (13 x 8 3/4 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.310

Location

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Neighing, the horse lunges forward and stares into the dying lion’s eyes.

Description

A Mughal prince encounters a lion in the wilderness and, maintaining his composure, dispatches it with a single blow of his sword. Equally fearless, his horse lunges toward the wild animal, one foreleg turning in to counter the force of the blow. This image recalls the feats of a Persian epic hero. This drawing may have been a study for a full-color composition. The areas of white around the key figures indicate that the artist was working out the ideal positioning of features and elements. The prince is calm and confident, in contrast to the anxious expression on the face of his attendant. The lion hunt is an ancient kingship display of courage and power, especially in Iran and the Near East-areas to which the Mughals trace their cultural roots. As though by contrast in the background, a shepherd tends sheep in the peace and safety assured by the brave prince.

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