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    Sale 7571

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    8 April 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 278

    A BLACK BUCK (NILGAI)

    MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1740-50

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A BLACK BUCK (NILGAI)
    MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1740-50
    Gouache heightened with gold on paper, the young black and white buck stands against a lush green landscape amidst floral sprays, with trees growing across the horizon, laid down on an album page decorated with stylised red flowers on white ground, one tear across the top of the miniature
    8 3/8 x 5 1/8in. (21.5 x 13cm.)


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    The present painting is remarkable for its delicate and formal rendition of the black buck. It is the painter Mansur, who worked in the atelier of Jahangir in the early 17th century, with whom this kind of single figure animal study is most often associated. For a discussion on Mansur see Stuart Cary Welch, India: Art and Culture 1300-1900, New York, 1985, pp.215-220, where another painting of a black buck, painted by Mansur, is published.

    Another 17th century painting of a black buck ascribed to Mansur, somewhat more stylised than both the aforementioned and the present examples, is in the Kevorkian Album in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Stuart Cary Welch, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie L. Sweietochowski and Wheeler M. Thackston, The Emperors' Album: Images of Mughal India, New York, 1987, no. 50, pp. 184-5). Swietochowski mentions that Jahangir hunted black bucks with decoys used to draw out wild ones. The emperor even mentioned that he built a stone sculpture in the form of an antelope to honour his favourite decoy after its death (Jahangir, Tuzuk, II, p. 43., Stuart Cary Welch et al, op. cit., p.184).

    The subject of the buck here is however closest to an example dated to the beginning of the 18th century, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Ous.Add.167, fol. 8), illustrated in Ivan Stchoukine, La Peinture Indienne a l'Epoque des Grand Moghols, Paris, 1929, pl. LXXXVIb. As with the Oxford example, the horns of the buck have become more elongated than in earlier examples and the treatment of the landscape has become more detailed. In the present example the treatment of special recession on the horizon is also more typical of the early 18th century.

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    Provenance

    Property of an English Gentleman, Sotheby's, New York, 19 September 2007, lot 110