Royal Udaipur Collection 
Vishnu Lal, New York, New York 
From 2004 to 2018
Catherine Glynn Benkaim, Beverly Hills, California, purchased from Vishnu Lal in New York, New York in 2004 
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, partial gift and purchase from Catherine Glynn Benkaim 
 According to information from Andrew Topsfield, the painting was previously in the Royal Collection of Udaipur. He states, “I first saw this picture in 1976. It was then in Switzerland and belonged to a group of paintings formerly in the Mewar royal collection which I understood had come out of India a few years before, possibly 1969 but I am not sure.” See letter from Andrew Topsfield from Nov. 29, 2917, copy in object file, Collections Management Office.
 According to information from Catherine Glenn Benkaim, Vishnu Lal is the son of an Agra dealer, Ganeshi Lal. But he also had an office on 42nd street and 5th avenue right across the street from the Public Library. Ms. Benkaim does not know when the New York office opened because the Lal family had been in the business since the 19th century. The New York office is no longer open.
 See note 2.
 See Acquisition Justification Form, object file, Collections Management Office.
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
Royal Udaipur Collection
Vishnu M. Lal
Catherine Glynn Benkaim
Within an arena, five vignettes convey the play-by-play action of an elephant contest. At the upper right, the elephants are introduced, then clash beneath the Rana's balcony on the upper left, until one falls and sheds its mahouts. It is pursued, but turns on its attacker, which also spills its riders.
The many active minor figures are freshly if naively drawn and the action unusually overlaps into the margins. Above and aloof from the melee, the Rana sits facing his younger brother Arsi and son Gaj Singh, while Garibas sits behind.
kī 115 18/40
[partially obscured]…. kālīkāṁṭī ro bhālerāv
Price 115 rupees [in red] 18/40
śrī māhārājādhīrāj māhrāṇojī śrī rāj sīghjī baṭhā
bhatiyanī chovṭe hāthī ladavaya jaṭhe sāmā
māhārājā arsī beṭhā māhārājā gaj sīghjī
beṭhā hajur pāche prohat garībdāsjī beṭhā
hāṭhī sadāmaṁd bhurīkaṁṭī ro hāṭhī bhālerāv
Shri Maharajadhiraj Maharanaji Shri Raj Singhji sat [at]
Bhatiyani Chohta; the elephants were made to fight
there; where, in front, Maharaja Arsi sat, Maharaja Gaj
Singhji sat, after the king, the priest Garibdas sat.
Elephant Sadamand has a brown luster; elephant
Bhalerav has a black luster.
Verso in Rajasthani in devanagari script:
(on right, in a smaller hand) Hathi Jhalera Su Ladavya, Kali Kanti Ro Jhalerav
Elephant fight and the one with the black band is Jhalerav (meaning of Jhalerav unknown)
(in a larger hand) Shri Maharaja Dheraj Maharanoji Shri Raj Singhni Bada Bhatiyani Chovte Hathi Ladavaya Jate Sama Maharaja Arsiji Betha Maharaja GajSigh Ji Betha Husuriya Che. Prohit Garibdas Betha Hathi Sadasamand Bhuri Kanti Ro Hathi Bhalerav Kali Kanti Ro
During Shri Maharajadhiraj Maharana ji Shri Raj Singh’s [big/elder?] elephant fight in a field. Sitting in front is Maharaja Arsiji and Maharaja Shri Gaj Singh ji in service. The priest Garibdas ji is also sitting. As always the elephant has a brown [chain/throat/ neck band?] and [Bhalerav?] elephant has a black [chain/throat/ neck band]. 1.
1. Translated by Shahgufta Parekh. But DD needs to check this inscription again as another scholar noted that the text names the elephants: Sada Mand [the offspring of?] Bhurikanti; and Bhala Rao [the offspring of?] Kalikanti. These same elephants’ names are repeated in the smudged inscription at the top. In the second line the inscription states that the elephant fight takes place in Bhatiyani Chohta ('bhatyani covate'): this is still a street name in Udaipur, just below the Palace. (Chohata means crossroads).
- Published References
- Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. A Splendid Land: Paintings from Royal Udaipur. Exh. cat. Munich, 2022. cat. 4, pp. 79, 321.
- Collection Area(s)
- South Asian and Himalayan Art
- CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)
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