Around 60 works that were on the block at the Artiana South Asian Art auction were sold fetching close to Rs 11.1 crore.
Various works by Indian artists have been on the global art connoisseur’s map for some time now and the late MF Husain’s paintings have been a favourite whenever they have gone under the hammer.
Dubai-based online art auction house Artiana has concluded its first white glove (100% sold) sale, thanks to Husain. The artworks that fetched the top two bids came from the Indian modern artist.
Around 60 works that were on the block at the Artiana South Asian Art auction were sold fetching close to Rs 11.1 crore. The works were estimated to rake in around Rs 10 crore.
Not surprisingly, one third of the auction proceeds came from Husain’s works. “At an Asian auction if Husain is on the block there is very slim chance of any other artwork making it to the top buys,” said Lavesh Jagasia, founder at Artiana, UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles.
“The top two artworks were sold to two UAE residents where Husain and is very popular. We had a hectic four day bidding session where we saw a lot of new buyers taking interest in Indian artworks. India and UAE is where most of the buyers came from,” added Jagasia.
Artists that made it to the top-10 included Husain’s new to the market Trinity of Mother Teresa that fetched Rs 2.2 crore followed by another of his untitled painting that fetched Rs 1.5 crore. Other entries on the list included Krishen Khanna’s Thou Sayest So, Sayed Haider Raza’s Dhayan and Zarina Hashmi’s Home is a Foreign Place that collected Rs 95 lakh, Rs 81.5 lakh and Rs 40.8 lakh, respectively.
Ram Kumar, Jamil Naqsh, Francis Newton Souza, K. Laxma Goud, Bhupen Khakhar were other artists who saw maximum bids. Their lots made close to Rs 1.8 crore.
With a No Buyer’s Premium Policy where buyers do not have to pay a commission for the artwork purchased, Artiana has streamlined the online auction process offering clients important elements of traditional auction house services such as expertise, gallery viewings and printed catalogues.
Artiana, a Dubai-based online art auction platform, is putting up 55 Indian artworks on the block at their South Asian Art – Classical, Modern and Contemporary Online Auction between May 10 and May 14
This May, those who admire MF Husain and his works have something to look forward to. After selling his ‘The Last Supper’ at $ 1.1 million against a lower estimate of $700,000, Dubai-based online art auction platform Artiana is again putting up another 55 Indian artworks on the block at their South Asian Art – Classical, Modern and Contemporary Online Auction between May 10 and May 14.
The May auction will feature new-to-market works by MF Husain with ‘Trinity of Mother Teresa’ being the cover lot and another painted on the day of the India and Sri Lanka Cricket World Cup final match — two horses depicting the two teams as stallions of the cricket world. The auction that would have 90% Indian artwork also includes ‘Thou Sayest So’ by Krishen Khanna, ‘Shanti Bindu’ by SH Raza and an impressive bronze sculpture of Vishnu among other rare works by Bhupen Khakhar, Ram Kumar and SH Raza.
While ‘Trinity of Mother Teresa’ from 1989, a suitable vintage Husain artwork, has a lower estimate of $350,000, Krishen Khanna’s work has one of $100,000. The auction has a novelty factor too. Artiana has got rid of the buyer’s premium, facilitating bidders to invest more in the bid. “By getting rid of the buyer’s premium, we make sure that a bidder invests his entire budget on the artefact and not in paying service charges,” said Lavesh Jagasia, founder at Artiana, UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles.
Artiana’s last sale in October 2017 clocked sales over $3 million, with 96% being sold with 128% total sale value against the lower estimate. This year, the numbers are expected to go higher.
According to Jagasia, his audience is divided in three halves — Indian bidders, bidders from UAE and those from the rest of the world.
After completing five successful auctions, Artiana’s future auctions are planned for art from the Middle East which will comprise works by Emirati artists including other surrounding countries and diaspora artists from this region, a sale of rugs and carpets, which will offer a range of hand-woven Oriental rugs and carpets, including textiles such as European paisley and Indian jamawar shawls.
Published: May 8, 2018 (Widewalls), by Angie Kordic
For four days this May, between the 10th and the 14th to be precise, there will be yet another splendid auction of South Asian Art hosted by the ARTIANA auction house from Dubai. A total of 60 lots will be featured in this online sale, including classical, modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures from the Indian subcontinent.
Among the highlights, we have an impressive bronze figure of Vishnu, a collection of 20 Company Paintings, a seminal 1989 painting by M.F. Husain, Trinity of Mother Teresa and Krishen Khanna’s marvelous Thou Sayest So from 1980.
Let us also not forget the leading figures of South Asian contemporary art, such as S.H. Raza, Bhupen Khakhar, F.N. Souza, Jamil Naqsh, Jogen Chowdhury… And who better to discuss this exciting sale than Lavesh Jagasia, ARTIANA’s founder and an expert on South Asian art with as many as three decades of experience in the field.
With Mr. Jagasia, we also discuss the introduction of VAT in the United Arab Emirates, its effect on the art market, the current state of affairs in that aspect, and of course, ARTIANA’s future plans. Have a read below!
How did ARTIANA’s last auction do and what are the highlights of the upcoming ‘South Asian Art’ sale?
Our last auction was very successful with a sell through rate of 96% and total sales at 128% of the lower estimate value. Our cover lot, the seminal work by M.F. Husain based on ‘The Last Supper’ was sold for USD 1.1 Million against the pre-sale estimate of USD 700,000. This currently remains the most expensive painting sold on our platform, and we are very pleased with the confidence reposed in us by our buyers that are reflective in our results.
Being the only auction house in the Middle East that has a regular calendar of ‘South Asian Art’ auctions, what trends have you observed with collectors of this genre of art?
Yes, that is absolutely correct, in fact we are the UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles and the only auction house in the region conducting auctions of South Asian art. The buyer base for this genre of art are the South Asian diaspora in the region and other overseas countries, besides collectors from India. There is a definite growing interest amongst the community to collect works of established artists, buying art for them is a tangible experience which we offer in our Dubai based viewing gallery. Quality works by Modernists with impeccable provenance generates the maximum interest, with the aesthetically appealing subjects being the most preferred, as these collectors want to live with the works rather than store them as pure investments.
Given the recent implementation of VAT in the UAE, how will this affect your auctions and the art market in general?
VAT in the UAE has been set at a very low rate of 5% for all goods and services. As an auction house dealing in pre-owned art and collectibles we are obliged to charge the VAT only on our commission, which is fixed at 20% of the Winning Bid, hence the net impact to buyer’s within UAE will be negligible at just 1% of the total purchase price, and overseas buyers will not be charged any VAT. We feel that the overall art market will also be able to absorb the impact of the 5% VAT between the galleries and buyers without affecting sales.
ARTIANA was featured in the latest South Asian Art Market report as one of the top auction houses amongst other older auction houses, how have you managed to achieve this in a short span of time?
Yes, we managed to garner close to 5% market share of South Asian art which merited our inclusion in the list of top auction houses focusing on this genre of art. Even though ARTIANA exists publicly in its current structure since last three years, actually it is a convergence of my three decades of engagement and experience in the South Asian art sphere, which brought together my expert knowledge, relationships, network and credibility to form this successful platform. Another aspect that may have acted as a catalyst is our disruptive ‘No Buyer’s Premium’ policy, which results in savings ranging from 15%-40% for our buyers as compared to the final payable amounts over and above the ‘Winning Bid’ at other auction houses.
According to recent art trade reports, lack of transparency is the main stumbling block holding the online art market thus fewer people purchase art online, how will ARTIANA address this?
Even though we use an omni-channel marketing strategy, and maintain a brick and mortar gallery for hosting our auction previews, we conduct all our auctions online and believe that this is the way forward for transacting art, hence our commitment towards furthering our digital strategy is always foremost in our business objectives. The key requirement to make this successful is gaining the confidence of new buyers that land on our website and retention of buyers that have transacted on our platform. Majority of these buyers use our past auction results for reference, and we permanently archive these results including the unsold lots for their information to maintain transparency on the pricing and the result of every lot offered at our sales. Besides this the prospective buyers are provided with provenance for every work after an in-depth investigation into its authenticity and ownership, and a comprehensive Artiana guarantee that covers all items sold on our platform for a period of six months from the auction closing date. These aspects add to our reliability and ensures the buyers that they are transacting with a premier dependable auction house.
Please share with us ARTIANA’s journey till now and what can we look forward to in terms of ARTIANA’s future plans and sales?
ARTIANA was launched three years ago and conducted its first auction in March 2016, maintaining a calendar of two South Asian Art auctions in a year. After our first year we introduced classical art in our catalogues that featured Gandharan and Indian sculptures and Indian miniature and company paintings sourced from outside India and vetted by our leading experts, these items have found a lot of interest with collectors, especially those based outside India as these works are non-exportable from within India. In terms of overall sales we grew three-fold between our first auction and our last concluded sale and have received positive feedback from our clients for our efforts in combining a curated catalogue with multiple entry levels and low impact costs. We plan to continue building similar catalogues for our upcoming sales every March and October which have become permanent fixtures in the South Asian art calendar. In this year we are planning to launch sales of Rugs & Carpets, Prints & Multiples followed by Middle Eastern art in the near future.
ARTIANA’s upcoming auction of Classical, Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures from the South Asian region will be held online on May 10-14 at www.artiana.com, with previews at their Downtown Dubai viewing gallery. The auction begins on May 10 at 6pm UAE time and will close on May 14 between 6:30-9pm. ARTIANA is UAE’s first home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles and have been receiving an overwhelming response from the art market, collectors and enthusiasts due to their efforts in bringing rare and authentic works of art to the market. Their last sale on October 2017 clocked sales over US$ 3 million with 96% lots being sold, 128% total sale value against the lower estimate, and MF Husain’s seminal work ‘The Last Supper’ being sold for US$ 1.1 million against a lower estimate of US$ 700,000.
Their May auction features seminal new-to-market works by MF Husain with ‘Trinity of Mother Teresa’ being the cover lot and another work of two horses painted on the day of the India and Sri Lanka Cricket World Cup final match depicting the two teams as stallions of the cricket world; including an important work ‘Thou Sayest So’ by Krishen Khanna, ‘Dhayan’ by SH Raza and an impressive bronze sculpture of Vishnu among other rare works by Bhupen Khakhar, Ram Kumar and SH Raza.
Future auctions are planned for art from the Middle East which will comprise works by Emirati artists including other surrounding countries and diaspora artists from this region, a sale of Rugs and Carpets which will offer a range of hand-woven Oriental rugs and carpets including textiles such as European paisley and Indian jamawar shawls, and a Prints and Multiples sale presenting prints by international artists executed in various printmaking techniques and three-dimensional multiples.
With its No Buyer’s Premium Policy, ARTIANA has redefined and streamlined the auction process offering clients the important elements of the traditional auction house services such as expertise, gallery viewings and printed catalogues. Its USP slogan “What You Bid Is What You Pay”. Prospective buyers can view the works by prior appointment. Registration for the auction can be completed online at www.artiana.com or through their mobile app available on both Google Play for Android and the App Store for Apple devices. ARTIANA conducts the auction process online on www.artiana.com using their proprietary auction application software, and distributes both online and physical catalogue for every auction. ARTIANA is founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an expert with three decades of experience in the sphere of Indian Art. He is a specialist in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and has collaborated with most of the leading South Asian artists on various projects.
Among the words found in the vocabulary of the art market, we find “Buyer’s Premium”. In auctions, this is a percentage additional charge on the hammer price of a certain lot that must be paid by the buyer. All major auction houses implement it, usually between 10% and 30%, and it is charged as a remuneration in addition to, or instead of, seller’s commission. Buyer’s premium was there since the Roman ages, in particular during the reign of Augustus, and was introduced by Christie’s and Sotheby’s in 1975; and while Christie’s still implements it, Sotheby’s eliminated it in August 2017, following the steps of an auction house that had had it for years before that – ARTIANA.
This online platform for selling art was founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an expert on South Asian art with three decades of experience in the field and the founder of an art publishing firm The Serigraph Studio, which has collaborated with most of the leading South Asian artists. ARTIANA’s slogan was “What You Bid Is What You Pay”from the get-go, and naturally, it also applies to their upcoming South Asian Art Sale, taking place between October 26th and 30th. The No Buyer’s Premium policy was introduced in line with their commitment to keep the transactional costs for both buyers and sellers at a minimum – which could be part of the reason the idea might become widespread.
Of this, and more, we talked to Mr. Jagasia once again, so be sure to scroll down and have a read.
ARTIANA’s No Buyer’s Premium Policy
Widewalls: ARTIANA is known for the No Buyer’s Premium policy. What were the circumstances that brought you to this decision?
Lavesh Jagasia: ARTIANA was conceived as a hybrid auction house that would redefine and streamline the auction transaction process, and reduce the historically high costs associated with it, whilst still offering the important elements of the traditional auction house services such as expertise, viewings and printed catalogues desired by many art collectors.
I drew on my three decades of experience in the art sphere, both as a collector and an art entrepreneur to come with the most optimal offering without diluting any of the services expected from a premium auction house, simultaneously doing away with non-essential activities related to the actual sale.
A lot of buyers stay away from the art market due to the high costs of transacting art in the secondary art market, and there has been a decline in in-room bidding with buyers preferring to bid over the telephone or online, rendering the live bidding process, one of the main costs attached to the auction process as replaceable.
ARTIANA conducts the auction process online on its proprietary auction application software, while continuing to offer viewings at our own gallery, allowing us to pass on all the savings to our clients.
Convinced that the No Buyer’s Premium would grow the market and that this would be the new normal we pioneered this concept and coined our USP slogan ‘What You Bid Is What You Pay’.
Widewalls: What was the feedback of your buyers and sellers regarding the policy since you introduced it?
LJ: The buyers were extremely pleased with the No Buyer’s Premium policy resulting in our auctions being an immediate success. With the sellers, we had to explain that either way they are paying the entire commission both at the front-end and back-end just presented differently; in-fact this policy increased the possibility of attracting extra bids resulting in a better net realization for the seller.
Widewalls: It would seem that the idea is now being picked up by Sotheby’s and possibly by other auction houses in the future. How would you comment on these changes?
LJ: Yes, they have adopted the No Buyer’s Premium policy across all their online auctions. Traditional business models are regularly being challenged by disruptive business models and have to adapt accordingly. We are pleased to have spearheaded an important change in the way art will be transacted going forward.
Widewalls: If widely adopted, what would the sales without Buyer’s Premium bring to the art market in general? What will it mean for the artworks’ value?
LJ: The No Buyer’s Premium policy will widen the market by attracting new buyers, it would increase transaction activity and encourage investment in art. All this would result in an overall increase in the value of works of art that have secondary market demand.
The Upcoming South Asian Art Sale
Widewalls: The South Asian Art auction is approaching. What would you point out as its highlights?
LJ: Our South Asian Art sale is led by a seminal work by one of India’s important modernists MF Hussain. The painting is based on The Last Supper and presents a rare opportunity for any collector to acquire a significant work of this artist. The work is the pivotal feature of The Lost Continent series. Painted in July 2005 in London, the series gives an insight into Hussain’s sense of humanity and moral values. It was sold for USD 2 million in 2005 and, at the time, bore the record of the highest sum ever paid for a work of modern art from India.
The sale features 60 lots of classical, modern and contemporary paintings, and will open for bidding from October 26, 2017 at 6:00 pm UAE time and will close on October 30 between 6:30 – 9:00 pm. Prior to the auction, buyers can view the works in our gallery by prior appointment. Registration for the auction can be completed on our website or through our mobile app available on both Google Play for Android and the App Store for Apple devices.
Featured images: Lavesh Jagasia with MF Hussain’s The Last Supper; Lot 30 – Rameshwar Broota; Lot 55 – Ram Kumar. All images courtesy Artiana.
Online auction house Artiana will conduct a sale of classical, modern and contemporary South Asian art from October 26 to 30. Highlights of the event include The Last Supper (left), a seminal work by M.F. Husain, which was sold for $2 million in 2005, establishing a record for the highest price paid for a modern work from India; and an Arabian-themed painting from Husain’s Ibn Zainab series done in the late 1970s.
The sale also features classical Indian miniature paintings and significant works by leading artists such as F.N. Souza, Manjit Bawa, S.H. Raza, B. Prabha, Sakti Burman, Jamil Naqsh and Rameshwar Broota. It includes a portrait of Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, painted by Souza in 1976.
Founded by art expert Lavesh Jagasia, Artiana has a unique auction model that offers traditional auction house services such as printed catalogues, pre-sale viewings and expert advice, but does not charge a buyer’s premium. The online format, and Artiana’s proprietary auction application software, allows buyers from around the globe to place their bids at any time convenient to them. Bids can also be placed via a mobile app, available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
The paintings can be viewed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Downtown Dubai, by prior appointment, from October 15 to 25. The auction will begin at 6pm on October 26, with final bids being accepted between 6.30pm to 9pm on October 30. For more details, registration, and online catalogue, go to www.artiana.com
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai. For more information and registration, visit www.artiana.com For viewing appointments, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTIANA Founder Lavesh Jagasia explains why South Asian art will weather economic slowdown
As founder of UAE’s foremost home-grown auction house for art and luxury collectibles, Lavesh Jagasia knows his art – not just from the aesthetic point of view but also from commercial perspective. As ARTIANA gears up to hold its next online auction on March 23-27, he takes us through the world of bidding and why South Asian art market is recession-proof.
What’s the USP of your next auction?
Our USP as an auction house is “what you bid is what you pay”; buyers at our auction do not pay any Buyer’s Premium over and above the winning bid amount. Other auction houses usually charge 25-30 per cent Buyer’s Premium on the final bid amount making the artworks more expensive. Our upcoming sale is about presenting Classical artworks along with Modern and Contemporary selection. This is a rare occasion when a sale of Classical South Asian art is taking place in the region and these will be presented with the expertise of world class scholars such as JP Losty for the Indian Miniature Paintings and Renzo Freschi for the Indian and Gandharan sculptures.
For a buyer, what is the advantage of participating in an online art auction?
Online art auctions give buyers the benefit of a seamless and convenient platform to bid from across the globe! They can view the works in our gallery and participate in our timed online auction as per their respective time zones. Online auctioning reduces the high costs associated with live in-room bidding of art and luxury collectibles. Buyers can also view all the details of the work and study the artworks through high-resolution images provided on our online auction platform, as if looking at the artworks in person. There are many buyers who prefer to remain discreet and this medium allows them that flexibility. Besides, there are options for ‘Proxy Bid’ in which case, a bidder can put in their upper limit bid and our proprietary auction application will bid on their behalf till this limit is reached, relieving the bidder of keeping a constant watch on the bid increments.
What tips would you give an art lover who is participating in an auction for the first time? How should he or she make smart choices?
Check the credibility of the auction house.
Make sure that they are selling genuine art works by ascertaining their reputation and length of association with the sphere of art that they specialise in.
Since art and luxury collectibles have a historically high value, make sure that you are getting the best value for your money by acquiring artworks that you love.
Acquire a painting which you can live with for a long time, as art should not be acquired merely as an investment. It is an asset class which should be approached with a combination of passion and research.
As much as possible, go for the auction houses who have a ‘No Buyer’s Premium Policy’ as it would save you from paying additional 25-30% of the hammer price.
Given the general economic slowdown, what is your assessment of the art market currently?
Based on my experience over many years which have included both highs and lows, I would say that the South Asian art market is hugely undervalued. The economic slowdown may broadly affect the mood of the buyer temporarily but confidence is proved time and again by record prices achieved by top-end works in which rare and sought-after pieces see hectic bidding activity. This is proof that the market for quality works remains extremely strong in any economic scenario. Moreover, the Indian economy is growing at a very healthy pace and has remained unaffected by the economic slowdown in the Gulf and other emerging economies. In this current auction, majority of our artworks are by Indian artists.
Can you recommend some South Asian artists to watch out for?
We always recommend acquiring the established masters from South Asia. The established artists we recommend any serious collector to acquire would be from the ‘Progressive Artists Group’ such as M. F. Husain, S. H. Raza, F. N. Souza, Ram Kumar and other artists such as Sakti Burman, Jehangir Sabavala, Jogen Chowdhury and Jamil Naqsh.
What are your favourite pieces that will be going under the hammer in the auction?
We have a seminal work of S. H. Raza titled ‘Emergence’; this work was painted in 1988 and has been published on the cover and inside of one of the artists’ most important books. There is a very large work of M F Husain titled ‘Islam’, this massive work is from his ‘Theorama’ series and is worthy of any museum acquisition.
Artiana, the UAE’s only home-grown auction house will hold its third online auction of South Asian Art from March 23 to March 27. The lots on offer include classical Indian and Gandhara sculptures from the second and third centuries, early Indian miniature paintings and rare works by leading South Asian modern and contemporary painters and sculptors.
Highlights include breathtaking ancient sculptures of Buddha and Indian deities, S.H. Raza’s 1988 painting, ‘Emergence’, which appeared on the cover of Alain Bonfand’s book, Raza; and a large museum quality work by M. F. Husain titled ‘Islam’, from his Theorama series. Estimated prices start at $800 for some miniature paintings.
A unique feature of Artiana’s auctions is that it does not charge a buyer’s premium, which typically ranges from 25 to 30 per cent of the purchase price. Thus, buyers have more leeway while bidding and sellers can get better prices.
The auction catalogue is available at www.artiana.com and those interested can also physically view the artworks at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Downtown Dubai.
The auction begins at 6pm on March 23 and final bids will be accepted between 6.30pm and 9pm on March 27. Buyers from around the world can place their bids whenever it is convenient for them during the auction. They can also bid on the move via Artiana’s state-of-the-art proprietary application software that can be downloaded from Google Play for Android devices and the Apple Store for iPhones and iPads. The software also allows buyers to place a ‘proxy bid’ stating the upper limit of their bid, and bids on their behalf until that limit is reached, freeing buyers from keeping a constant watch on the process.
Artiana was founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an art expert specialising in Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, and founder of art investment consultancy, The Fine Art Advisory, and art publishing firm, The Serigraph Studio.
“This is the first time ever that a sale of classical South Asian art is taking place in the region, and we are delighted to have the guidance of world class scholars such as J. P. Losty, an expert in Indian Miniature Paintings, and Renzo Freschi, who specialises in Indian and Gandharan sculptures,” Jagasia says.
Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai. For more information and registration, visit www.artiana.com For viewing appointments, write to email@example.com
Part of the upcoming online auction of South Asian Art are miniature paintings from the Indian subcontinent, showcasing different schools of classical paintings from 17th to 19th century. This one in particular uses opaque pigments and gold on paper, a medium unique in classical Indian miniature painting.
Maharao Ram Singh of Kota (r. 1827-66) is one of the best represented of Rajput rulers with many aspects of his life both public and personal documented by his artists. He is represented in durbars with his court and with British officials, in the many festivals of the Hindu calendar, including Dussehra as here, the Asapura festival (Kreisel 1995, fig. 132), and the riotous spring festival of Holi (Topsfield 1980, pl. 7), as well as personal worship of the deities (Seyller 2015, no. 60) , and of course many scenes of personal interest such as riding an elephant on top of the chajja of a pavilion in 1853 (Ehnbom1985, no. 64), playing polo with his noblemen (Welch 1997, no 63), entering Delhi in 1842 (ibid., no. 65), and scenes of him enjoying himself with his women (Seyller 2015, no. 61). Here, he is celebrating the autumnal Dussehra festival, commemorating the slaying of the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura by the Devi, by hunting and killing a buffalo in a ritual slaying. Other pictures suggest that this was not a solitary affair but was a communal ceremony undertaken with his nobles (Kreisel ed. 1995, fig. 133).
In our splendidly energetic painting, the Maharao is gorgeously apparelled in helmet and body armour, with room of course for jewels, over a lilac jama. He carries a small shield in his left hand which holds the reins, while an empty scabbard is by his side, the sword being used to slice at the neck of the buffalo, which is falling to the ground behind the horse. The horse is even more gorgeously caparisoned than the Maharao, with its tasselled mane, jewelled bridle and many chains with attached gold plates. Two attendants run beside on foot, one with a khanda sword and a chowrie, and the other with a sun-burst parasol. The latter may also be carrying an upright spear, unless it is attached to the horse in some way or held by an invisible attendant. The scene is set below a plain green hillside dotted with a few trees and with a walled garden near the summit of the hill.
The Maharao here appears relatively young, being without his full set of bushy sideburns that grew gradually over the course of his reign. He came to the throne at the age of 19 and one of his earliest datable portraits shows him about 25 (Bautze’s fig. 14 in Welch et al. 1997, p. 53), when his sideburns were already heavier than they are in our painting. His profile with its bulbous ending to the nose and protruding lips is instantly recognisable.
The horse rolls its eyes as the buffalo falls dying to the ground, its horns obtruding into the margin, but Ram Singh’s grave face is devoid of the pleasure of the hunt but rather intent on doing his ritual duty. A later and rather stiffer picture dated 1859 in the Mittal Museum in Hyderabad (Seyller ed. 2015, no. 63) shows the same ritual killing of the buffalo but with the Maharao using a spear rather than a sword, while a preliminary drawing for that painting is in the V&A Museum (Archer 1959, Kotah fig. 49).