Ascetics with dogs in landscape

The drawing is mounted on an album page of a yellowish color flecked with gold. There is a narrow frame in a slighter lighter tone outlined with gold and red lines. The main figure sits facing the viewer and is in a long robe. An emaciated, nearly nude figure faces him squatting with his hand on one knee. Another ascetic stands and offers obeisance to the master. One dog rolls around in front of him and another on a leash walks behind him. There is a clump of bushes to the lower left and a tree to the upper left tops a diagonal leading down to the right with a large group of twisted trees.
Artist Unknown Mughal Workshop, Uttar Pradesh
17th century
This compelling drawing depicts a group of Kanpats, a very specific type of ascetic or yogi. Worshippers of Shiva, the Kanpats wore large earrings made of bone and kept dogs as pets. Working with brush and ink on paper, the artist has skillfully combined faithful observation of nature with a bold stylization of forms, a trait that characterizes the best of Mughal painting and drawing. The small notations at the bottom give no information about the subject or artist, and may have concerned the placement of the painting within an album. It was frequently the case that Mughal paintings were collected and placed in albums, either at the time they were made or by later owners.
Museum purchase, Acquisition Fund
Thursday, December 13, 2018