Rana Bhim Singh and Consort

Rana Bhim Singh and Consort

c. 1810

attributed to Chokha

(Indian, 1770-1830)

Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper

Miniature: 24.8 x 15.9 cm (9 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.)

Purchase and partial gift from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection; Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2018.150

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Description

One of the most celebrated artists in the history of painting at Mewar, Chokha rendered the king and his consort in an intense embrace, nestled amid an overabundance of bolsters in a love nest draped with flower garlands and entirely covered with pink flower petals. The bliss of the encounter is heightened when the viewer realizes that the lady has been waiting so long for his return, presumably from battle, that she has had the time to drape the bed so thoroughly. The rana, or king, has set aside his sword and shield at the foot of the bed to focus on his queen and offer her a garland.

The ideal of bhoga, or enjoyment, was considered an essential aspect of ideal kingship, and the depiction of a virile king enjoying himself, as in this painting, would be visual testament to the glory of his rule, even if the actual situation was far from ideal. By the time of Bhim Singh, British residents exerted control in the Mughal and Rajput courts, and the ranas of Mewar were facing financial ruin and political decline. A European-style chair sits in an upper room of the marble palace as a reminder of British influence.

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