South Asian Collection, ‘A Princess on an Elephant- Zoomorphic (Persian School)’, ca. 18, Seraphin Gallery

A manuscript painting of a princess riding in a howdah on a composite elephant in a rather bleak landscape being attended by raja on horseback. The elephant is composed of numerous animals and one integrated person. The elephant is richly caparison and carries anklets on the front legs and neck band. The intended meaning of composite pictures in Indian and Persian art remains obscure. Some of the antecedents of the practice are cited by Welch where he traces the practice back to China in the pre-classical period .Whereas this picture may be generally interpreted as an expression of the philosophical concept of all creatures and things being made of smaller elements., in the Islamic context they seem to have a more specifically Sufi attraction based on the Sufi idea of multiplicity and unity.” In this example the religious building in the background adds an extra and tantalizing element”.

*Welch, Stuart Cary; Indian Drawings and Painted Sketches,16th through 19th Centuries; Exhibition catalog, Asia House Gallery, NewYork,1976

Collection of James E. Bogle, Philadelphia
Acquired 20 December 2002 from Freeman’s