Objects in Focus, January 2021

1564 Procession of Bhawani Singh, Sitama

Prince Bhawani Singh of Sitamau (r. 1867-1885) with his escort out hunting during the reign of his grandfather Maharaja Raj Singh
(r. 1802-1867)
Sitamau, Madhya Pradesh, dated V.S. 1912/1855 A.D.

Gouache on paper with gold
14 3/8 by 18 ½ in.; 36.5 by 47 cm. painting

SOLD TO THE MINNEAPOLIS INSTITUTE OF ART, 2010

In this large and vibrant processional scene, the young prince Bhawani Singh, heir apparent of Sitamau state, rides his imperious charger at a vigorous trot, head high and seated well back in his saddle. Returning from a hunting expedition as indicated by the two hounds and their keeper, his stallion wears impressive armour and he is wearing a mail suit and steel helmet whilst brandishing a sword, a painted shield at his side.

Other attendants and courtiers are identified but he only other person wearing mail, an indication of status, is Maharaja Bhopal Singh, who appears in the lower right-hand corner.

When first discovered in the 1970s, the few known paintings depicting the ruling family of Sitamau were originally attributed to Ratlam or Indore. They provide a revealing picture of the extent to which the traditional values of Rajput courtly life were still vigorously maintained, in spite of British rule, well into the mid-nineteenth century.

The central Indian state of Sitamau was founded in 1701 by Raja Keshav Singh, younger son of Raja Ram Singh of Ratlam and grandson of Raja Ratan Singh, the founder of Ratlam state also in Madhya Pradesh.

Little or nothing survives of Sitamau painting until the very end of the 18th century. This painting belongs to a small series variously dated between 1825 and 1855. Four are now in the Binny Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art and a fifth, signed by the artist Pyara Chand, is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Two further Sitamau portraits, formerly in the Ehrenfeld Collection are by the same artist and can be dated to about 1847 when they were presented at court.

Provenance
Sotheby's, Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, London, 10th December 1974, lot 86
Galerie Soustiel, Paris, 1974-1983: Soustiel, J. and M.-C. David, Miniatures Orientales de l’Inde III, Paris, 1983, p.107, no. 127
Dtr. R.S., Paris, 1983-2007: Peschetearu-Badin, Dessins et Tableau, Miniatures Indiennes et Persanes, Paris, 12.XII.07, lot 95

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The Guildford Marble Puteal
Carved with Deities and Heroes

Greek, 25-15 B.C
h. 48 cm., w. 99 cm.

SOLD TO THE BRITISH MUSEUM, 2003

In December 1805 Edward Dodwell, the painter and traveller was staying at Corinth in the house of a magistrate known as Notara when he noticed in the garden what he described as the “ancient mouth of a well”, still in use but placed upside down in an attempt to preserve it. Believed to be an example of early Greek Archaic art, this well-head or puteal attracted a great deal of attention and admiration from the many European travellers who stayed with Notara including William Leake and Giovanni Battista Lusieri who in a letter to Lord Elgin in 1809 noted that it was in the possession of Vely Pasha, son of Ali Pasha. It was however not acquired by Lord Elgin as Lusieri had hoped but by Frederick North, fifth Earl of Guilford who in 1810 was on a tour of Greece. Back to London it was sent, along with sixty cases of marble sculptures, and was exhibited in the dining room of his house at 24. St. James’s Place, St James’s. Made of pentelic marble and decorated in low relief with ten figures of deities and heroes in procession it is an important and significant example of Roman archaizing sculpture and can be dated to the late quarter of the first century B.C.

Provenance
Found on the Acropolis at Corinth and first seen in December 1805 by the artist Edward Dodwell
Acquired by Frederick North, 5th Earl of Guildford (1766-1827) before 1819
Thomas Wentworth Beaumont (1792-1848)

Published
Dodwell, E., A Classical and Topographical Tour through Greece during the years 1801, 1805, and 1806, vol. 11, London, 1819, pp. 200-2
Leake, W. M., Travels in the Morea with a Map and Plans, London, 1830, pp. 264-8
Michaelis, A., Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, pp.160-1