Maharao Raja Binay Singh

Maharao Raja Binay Singh (1808, r. 1815-1857)
Attributed to Baldev
Alwar, 1840

Opaque pigments with gold on paper
Image: 18.3 x 12.4 cm
Folio: 27.5 x 19 cm

Binay Singh was a great patron of the arts and encouraged fine architecture in Alwar, including palaces, gardens, buildings, and roads. In 1815, he built the Moosi Maharani ki Chhatri, one of the finest cenotaphs in Rajasthan, in memory of his uncle, and predecessor, Maharaja Bakhtawar Singh1. The magnificence of the building, which used Makrana marble and Kaurali red sandstone, and its extensive mural program indicate that it was likely seen as a statement of legitimacy for Binay whose accession was a point of contention for some. A lovely painting of this cenotaph, which may also be the work of Baldev, recently passed through the London art market2. Binay also commissioned the charming Siliserh Lake Palace.

The artist Baldev of Jaipur is known to have worked alongside the great Mughal artist Ghulam ‘Ali Khan on an illustrated Gulistan for Raja Binay Singh which is considered one of the great masterpieces of Indian book painting3. Ghulam ‘Ali Khan must have had a great influence on the young Baldev for he seems to have adopted elements of his style early in his career. A very similar portrait of Binay Singh signed by Baldev is in the British Library4. Jerry Losty has recently identified two further portraits by Baldev. The first, a portrait of Binay Singh’s son and successor, Sheodan Singh, is now in the Louvre Abu Dhabi5. The second is a fine unpublished portrait of Rao Raja Bhairo Singh of Sikar, which is dated 1865/66 and is currently in a private London collection.

1. Sotheby’s London, The Sven Gahlin Collection, 10/6/2015, Lot 64.
2. Sotheby’s London, The Sven Gahlin Collection, 10/6/2015, Lot 35.
3. Neeru Misra, Splendours of Rajasthani Paintings: Gulistan of Alwar School, 2008.
4. British Library, India Office Album 53, no. 5048, Published, M. Archer & T. Falk, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, Cat. 534.
5. Losty, Indian Miniatures from the James Ivory Collection, Cat. 48.