Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903) Start for the Hunt at Gwalior  34 1/4 x 52 1/4in (86.9 x 132.7cm)

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Lot 24
Edwin Lord Weeks
(American, 1849-1903)
Start for the Hunt at Gwalior 34 1/4 x 52 1/4in (86.9 x 132.7cm)

Sold for US$ 509,000 inc. premium
Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903)
Start for the Hunt at Gwalior
signed 'E L Weeks' (lower left, atop Moghul device)
oil on canvas
34 1/4 x 52 1/4in (86.9 x 132.7cm)


  • Executed circa 1884-85.

    with Goupil & Co., New York.
    with Knoedler Galleries, New York.
    Sale, Estate of John Knoedler, New York, 1893, no. 290 (as Departure for the Hunt, India).
    Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., (deaccessioned 1951).
    with Knoedler Galleries, New York (acquired from the above).
    Dr. Stanley Kenneth Jernow, Montclair, New Jersey.
    Richard & Patricia Anawalt, Los Angeles, (acquired from the above, 1980.

    St. Louis Exposition of 1888, no. 52.
    Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum, American Paintings in Southern California Collections: From Gilbert Stuart to Georgia O'Keeffe, March 17-May 26, 1996.
    New York, Vance Jordan Fine Art, Edwin Lord Weeks: Visions of India, 31 October-12 December 2002.

    American Paintings in Southern California Collections, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (known as "Start for the Hunt at Gwalior"; EX. 96.536), 1996, p. 64, illustrated.
    Hiesinger, Ulrich W., Visions of India (Vance Jordan Fine Art, New York, 2002); Plate 32 (color).
    Catalogue of Modern Paintings Belonging to M. Knoedler & Co., Successors to Goupil & Co. to Settle the Estate of the Late John Knoedler; American Art Association, New York, April 1893. (lot 290: "The Departure for the Hunt")
    In the Knoedler auction of 1893 the painting is described as:
    "Through the streets of an Indian city rides a native Rajah, splendid in his rich and bejeweled garments and accoutrements, accompanied by his falconer, who carries his hawk perched on his hand, and followed by his cortege of attendants."

    Edwin Lord Weeks was a highly renowned American expatriate painter who worked in Paris during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Born in Boston, Weeks undertook periodic expeditions through North Africa, Persia, and particularly India to procure the subject matter for his exotic paintings, returning intermittently to his Paris studio to execute formal compositions, usually larger than his in situ works done during his travels. Weeks exhibited regularly at the annual Paris Salons, and soon distinguished himself as a leading orientalist painter of his generation, eventually achieving the highest distinctions within the academic art world of fin-de siècle Paris, including the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur. He became especially famous for his use of light and color and his technique of exceptional realism.

    This present extraordinary painting, both large and striking, is a masterwork in Weeks' oeuvre. It depicts a royal procession in Gwalior, India, a small city in the hills of north central India, south of Agra, in Madhya Pradesh, an Indian kingdom and princely state during the British Raj in Rajasthan. It was ruled in Weeks' time as a subsidiary alliance with the British by the Scindia dynasty, a Maratha class which included the rulers of Gwalior. It is famous for its massive fortress, the home of the Maharajah and his family, which Weeks painted several times.

    In the present work is seen a street in Gwalior lined on a raised curb with a long white stucco building ornamented with brackets and a balcony, with various figures inside the roofed enclosure. A related study titled Market Scene, Gwalior, India was sold in Paris in 2010, again showing a raised platform with various figures seated upon it, a roof and upper storey, all in white. In Start for the Hunt, Gwalior we see three principal figures in the foreground: first and foremost, the Maharajah of Gwalior adorned in shimmering violet silk brocaded costume, with striking pink highlights, and bright red turban seated astride a pure white steed with elaborate brocaded saddle. We know this bearded figure to be the Maharajah because he also appears in similar costume on the same white horse in a processional painting Weeks titled The Maharajah of Gwalior before His Palace (Hiesinger, Fig. 38).

    The Maharajah is seen accompanied by an attendant in white walking by his side holding various Indian adornments. To the Maharajah's right on a sable-colored horse is his royal falconer in splendid pink costume with angled turban. It is worth noting that Weeks deliberately contrasts this figure on a brown horse from the Maharajah's pure white horse in order for the Maharajah to remain the center of attention. The falconer is holding a speckled falcon on his left hand, with head typically covered. All three foreground figures are followed by a retinue of comparably dressed attendants both on horseback and walking along the street. The whole is a cavalcade setting out for a hunt for small game, a common sport among Rajput royalty at the time.

    The entire composition is seen in brilliant sunshine and color, as was Weeks' great skill in so many of his paintings. On the extreme left edge of the composition is a gaily dressed and jeweled nautch girl captivated by the procession; to her left is an Indian figure occupied with a silver hookah, and behind them are seen various other native figures one typically finds along a north Indian street, all impeccably rendered. The Indian crenelated arcades lead the eye further back into darkness. The entire scene is one of a royal procession before a typical urban street in north India, with Weeks' incomparable color displayed everywhere, intensified by brilliant tropical light.

    Accompanying the painting is a letter of authentication from Dr. Ellen K. Morris. The painting will be included in the Edwin Lord Weeks catalogue raisonné. We are grateful to Dr. Morris for researching and writing this catalogue entry.
Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903) Start for the Hunt at Gwalior  34 1/4 x 52 1/4in (86.9 x 132.7cm)
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