The poet Sundar Das before Emperor Shah Jahan, folio from a Sundar Shringar

Artist: Attributed to Nainsukh (active ca. 1710-1778)
Historical period(s)
ca. 1750-1760
Guler school
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W (image): 14.7 × 23.6 cm (5 13/16 × 9 5/16 in) H x W (sheet): 19.5 × 28.6 cm (7 11/16 × 11 1/4 in)
India, Himachal Pradesh state, Guler
Credit Line
Purchase from the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Manuscript folio

India, poet, portrait, Ralph and Catherine Benkaim collection, ruler

To 1940s
Raja of Mandi [1]

Sale, London, Sotheby’s, Fine Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, December 14, 1987, lot 87: “A Hill ruler, probably Raja Sidh Sen of Mandi, paying respects to a Mughal emperor who kneels on a canopied throne” [2]

From 1987 to 2017
Ralph Benkaim (1914-2001) and Catherine Glyn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, purchased at auction, “Fine Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures,” Sotheby’s, London, December 14, 1987, lot no. 87, “A Hill ruler, probably Raja Sidh Sen of Mandi, paying respects to a Mughal emperor who kneels on a canopied throne” [3]

From 2017
Freer Gallery of Art, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim [4]


[1] The painting is believed to have been part of a large cache of Mandi paintings that were dispersed from the Mandi storerooms in the 1940s. The father of Mr. Bharany, who was based in Amritsar, was one of two dealers who handled their dispersal. About half the paintings went to Lahore; Mr. Mehra (a dealer in Delhi) and Coswajee Jahangir (a collector in Mumbai) were among those who acquired them in India, according to information from Catherine Glynn Benkaim, June 14, 2016.

[2] See object file.

[3] See Acquisition Consideration Form, object file, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Raja of Mandi
Ralph (1914-2001) and Catherine Benkaim
Catherine Glynn Benkaim


Verso: Four lines of devanagari script: a verse of Sundar
Shah Jahan gave countless wealth to skilled men.
Among them he honored the fine poet Sundar with much respect.
He gave gemstones, ornaments, a land settlement,1 horses, elephants, a set of
clothing. First he gave the title “King of poets,” then “Emperor of Poets.”
The king of poets is a Brahman and a resident of Gwalior city.
The emperor looks upon him with favor and is kindly.

In another hand in devanagari script: Sri Badshah [the esteemed emperor] ordered [Sundar] to make [compose] the Sundar Shringar. On getting the emperor’s order, [the poet] obtained the blessings of Sri Vishnu and Saraswati and returned to his home.
A purple stamped cartouche (the Mandi inventory stamp) with handwritten number 268. The numbers 4 and 44 in black ink in different hands.


A purple stamped cartouche (the Mandi inventory stamp) with handwritten number 268.

Published References
  • Sotheby's, London, December 14, 1987., December 14, 1987. lot. 87.
  • Vishwa Chander Ohri, Roy C. Craven. Painters of the Pahari Schools. Mumbai. no. 3, p. 3.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
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