An auction of works collected by Indian painting specialist Toby Falk to be sold at Christie’s in London next month features several equestrian works.
An Eye Enchanted: Indian Paintings from the Collection of Toby Falk includes more than 150 paintings from different schools of painting across the Indian subcontinent, from Mughal to Pahari, Deccani, Company School and some of the lesser-known Rajasthani centres.
Paintings date from the 15th century right up to the beginning of the 20th and values range from £500 to £300,000.
Falk was one of the foremost academics in the field of Indian painting. He died in the 1990s after a brief battle with cancer, but before then, he was responsible for some of the most important academic texts on Indian and Islamic art.
Lot 35, A Stallion with Two Attendants, is ascribed to Bhavani Das and dates from 1730-1740. The inscription on the back, likely added later, summarises the contents of the Hindi text with minor variations: “The horse is property of Iláhyār Khān. Bought by Sulṭān Naẓar Khān Bābur. The horse is a lākhaurī kumait (bay horse), musky (dark bay) in appearance. This colour does not indicate speed. The nape inclines to red.”
As the Mughal state became unable to support the artistic production of previous centuries, many artists including Bhavani Das sought patronage in smaller regional courts in the early 18th century. Bhavani Das arrived in Kishangarh in 1719, quickly becoming the highest-paid state employee.
A highly skilled draughtsman, Bhavani Das is recognised for his highly refined treatment of human subjects and rendering of horses. This work is one of only two known works ascribed to the artist — the other is a painting of the piebald stallion Jukaldan Ayragi which was sold by Sotheby’s in New York in 1992.
A Stallion with Two Attendants has a pre-sale estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.
Lot 19, A Pink Stallion and Groom, was painted in about 1680. It shows both the part-coloured technique that was popular in Sawar, and also the intensely dark shading formed of very fine lines that relate to the drawing style of Kota. The fiercely intense expression on the horse’s face is related to that on A Young Prince which was on the market in 2014 attributed to Sawar (Francesca Galloway, Summer Exhibition, 2014, no.16).
Falk famously catalogued the collection of the India Office Library and produced Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library in 1981. Amongst other publications was India Revealed (1989) based on the collections of two Scots, James and William Fraser, who went to India at the beginning of the 19th century and were extensive patrons of Company School works. He also produced the catalogues of Persian and Mughal miniatures and drawings exhibited by Colnaghi’s for the Festival of Islam in 1976. All are still go-to reference books for budding scholars and existing academics in the field.
The auction An Eye Enchanted: Indian Paintings from the Collection of Toby Falk is at Christie’s in London on October 27, at 10.30am (BST).
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