The elephant hunt, a periodic event in the life of the Indian imperial court, was intended to augment the royal stables.
This Rajasthani painting records an elephant hunt organized by the Bikaner maharaja Anup Singh. In the foreground an old, domesticated elephant has been tied to a tree as a decoy to pacify a herd of wild elephants, shown playing in a pond. In the middle distance another group of elephants is driven by invisible beaters toward a group of hunters waiting in ambush in the trees. In the distance, Anup Singh himself, seated in a howdah, along with his court retinue, observes the entire spectacle. The Art Museum’s painting is one of the great surviving works from the court of the Bikaner maharaja, a patron of art and literature.