Like many famous romances, the quasi-historical tale of Baz Bahadur, the Muslim ruler of Malwa, and the Hindu singer Rupmati ends in tragedy. The two met and fell in love while Baz Bahadur was hunting outside his capital of Mandu, in central India. Not long after, the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) invaded Malwa, and the lovers became separated. While Baz Bahadur was soliciting help from neighboring allies, Rupmati poisoned herself to avoid capture by the enemy army. Works like this one, which shows the sultan and his wife at the hunt, became especially popular at India’s royal courts during the eighteenth century. Because the Mead painting is largely unfinished, the artist’s hand—including his delicate underdrawing and masterful shading—is still visible. His alterations and erasures are also evident. In some places, for example, he used a thin layer of white paint to mask his errors.
- Yael Rice, 2015
animals; bow and arrow; dogs; horses; houses; hunting; landscapes; narrative
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