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Arjuna as a Victor

Arjuna as a Victor
signed in Urdu (upper left); inscribed 'Arjuna as a Victor by M.A. Rahman Chughtai Rani Road Lahar, Pakistan 1930' (on the reverse)
watercolor on paper
22 3/8 x 17 7/8 in. (56.8 x 45.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1930
Acquired directly from the artist by Jiro Inagawa, during his tenure as the Japanese Consul General in Lahore, Pakistan in 1955 - 57
Thence by descent

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Lot Essay

Abdur Rahman Chughtai is remembered today as the most distinguished Pakistani artist of the 20th century, although much of his work reflects a common South Asian cultural heritage. His most desirable images portray famous personalities from Islamic history and scenes from religious and Mughal texts, often in exceptional compositions rendered with bold, flowing lines.

This alluring picture references the legendary archer Arjuna, one of the five Pandava brothers and the hero par excellence of the great Hindu epic Mahabharata. This scene conceivably portrays the contest which won him the hand of his first wife Draupadi, daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala. As aptly described by Joachim Bautze, Chughtai's romantic combination of colors are painted in "[...] delicious lines that seem to be less lines of painting than of some inaudible poetry made visible, in folds of drapery that are never mere coverings to or discoverings of the human body [...].' (James H. Cousins, Interaction of Cultures Indian and Western Painting 1780 - 1910, Virginia, 1998, p. 137)

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