Maharana Bhim Singh (1768, r.1778-1828) of Mewar
in his harem
by Chokha (at Mewar court)
circa 1810 CE
Gouache on paper
6.4 x 10.4 in. (16.3 x 26.4 cm.)
Back: “Tasabir Shri Shri Maharana ji Shri Bhim Singhji Arasi Bilas re upare
bhagatan sati dasi re sathe podharane padhaaryaa tasbir Chokho banayi”
Maharana Bhim Singh’s reign was marked with hardships including repeated Maratha attacks and plundering which left the royal exchequer empty. Conditions worsened to the extant that Bhim Singh had to borrow money for one of his weddings. But no catastrophe seems to have lessened his interest in vanity and art of painting. He married multiple times and had numerous
children (some sources account him with 95 to 100 offspring). He commissioned a number of splendid paintings that depict him engaged in festivities, amusements, hunting, etc.
This portrait is one of many depictions of Maharana Bhim Singh in a zenana, and it has a soothing appeal to it. Chokha’s refined brush work, signature facial features, slightly stout figures and contrasting colour palette are accentuated with profusion of gold against the bright white of the architecture and the grey-ish blue night skyline.