A Seated Nobleman

Attributed to Bagta,  Deogarh School, c. early 19 Century

Ink & brush drawing on paper with touches of red and yellow  

9½ x 7½ inches, image

10¼ x 8 3/8 inches, folio 


A rajput nobleman - from his distinctive gold-ribboned turban a native of Deogarh, an important Thikana (or fiefdom) in the kingdom of Udaipur — sits against a bolster cushion and gazes thoughtfully into the distance, while chewing on a strip of sugarcane. With his large features and generous girth, this person seems to be a member of the ruling clan of Deogarh, the Chundavats. He is wearing unusually resplendent finery and jewels - a pair of makara clasped bracelets, a dagger with a lion's head pommel in a chased scabbard, and three necklaces supporting amulets of different sizes, of which the last is a box holding, probably, a miniature sacred text. All of these golden elements have been shown by the artist with particular care, and picked out in touches of yellow paint. Clearly the aristocratic sitter, who has not so far been identified, was a person of some position and importance.

Bagta observes the singular character of the person before him with sympathetic acuity - yet he hardly flatters his sitter. This ability to create a dignified and vivid human being on the page without being pompous or meretricious is one of the artist's most appealing traits, and it places Bagta among the best of Indian portrait painters. 


The high quality and accomplished technique of the drawing, at once both careful and spontaneous, are typical of the artist's work. In its assurance and authority, the profile head appears very much to be an actual portrait taken from life.



Rawat Gokul Das Seated with a Rifle, By Bagta, Dated 1807, San Diego Art Museum, Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, from Fig. 73, "Bagta and Chokha: Master Artists at Devgarh", by M.C. Beach, Artibus Asiae Supplement XLVI, 2005.


Cheetah Hunting, Attributed to Bagta, late 18th century, Anonymous loan, from Plate 58, "Indian Drawings and Painted Sketches", by Stuart Cary Welch, The Asia Society, 1976.