The present painting is inscribed in the upper right margin in neat Takri with "tasvir Raja Blawant Singh" and on the reverse with "A2." The hand and inscriptions are similar to those found on the recto and verso of Balwant Singh's Elephant Clawed by a Lion (see illustration).
A group of paintings by Nainsukh was offered on 14 December 1931 in a sale at Sotheby's London, which included a section of "oriental manuscripts and miniatures," in which "The Property of Sir D. J. Tata" was included as lots 470 to 480. The original auctioneer's book is reproduced here, complete with annotations of the buyers from that sale. All but five of the works have been traced to known Nainsukh paintings in present-day collections, including the one sold in these rooms earlier this year (see Christie's New York, 21 March 2008, lot 507) and are indicated alongside the reproduction. Now the whereabouts of lot 474, listed as "Another of a similar scene, the Rajah standing in the howdah on an elephant, discharging an arrow at an approaching lion, the state elephant and troops waiting in the distance," can also be established. This description, combined with the inscriptions, corresponds to the present example.
The present painting shares a number of traits with Musicians playing a Raga for Balwant Dev Singh during the Rainy Season. Both are of large size compared to the rest of his oeuvre, share the same early provenance, and illustrate Nainsukh's mastery at depicting the quotidian activities of his patron's life. The previous example demonstrates Nainsukh's ability to capture serene moments, whereas this painting shows his skill at portraying far more dynamic activities.