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Herd of Elephants

Herd of Elephants
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Item Code: AA31
Water Color on Old Urdu Paper, Manual Calligraphy on both sides
6.0" x 2.9"
The Mughals had a vivid sense for every form of beauty and an enquiring mind. They were fascinated with their chosen homeland-India. Its flora and fauna particularly interested them, hence its graphic and lively depiction in their art. The Mughal artists were excellent in capturing the images of animals realistically. They painted them after a careful study, examining them closely, and the art that was thus born was not merely a copy of the external appearance of the animals, but objective illustrations of their moods.

The figures of these five elephants in their natural habitat are indeed imbued with realism. They have been rendered with sensitivity and a sobriety, rendering possible the difficult task of depicting these massive animals in a frolicking and playful mood. The eyes of these creatures express their gentleness and intelligence.The elephants are in characteristic poses. The two elephants leading the herd are seated, as if resting. The three elephants behind them are goading them, as if asking them to rise and get moving along.

Small brush strokes convey the texture and thickness of their skin. The underbellies are wrinkled and a little shading highlights their bulkiness. The background is essentially green with sparse vegetation, sprigged with small plants. The painting takes a distant perspective where the horizon is lowered and the sky is tinted with grey, pink and azure tones. Clouds are represented in the manner of occidental art, typical of miniatures under the influence of painting during Akbar's reign.

In this composition, the drama and camaraderie of the moment seems to have been frozen. It brings out ever so effectively, the calmness and understanding of these mammoth animals. Even when the artist has worked here in conventional forms, he has been able to express profound psychological values in his composition, and has not missed inserting descriptive details wherever significant.

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