Male artists were seldom permitted visual access to female members of India’s royal courts. For this reason, representations of women tend to be fairly generic, while portraits of princes, emperors, and male courtiers are much more individuated. In typical fashion, the woman in this painting is portrayed as an anonymous, idealized beauty, though her golden halo and elaborate jewelry hint at her royal status. The format of the composition also draws from a standard imperial image type developed at the Mughal court in the early seventeenth century. Known as jharokha (balcony) portraits, these paintings show the emperors giving public audience from a palace window or balcony. Where contemporary jharokha paintings depict Muhammad Shah (r. 1719–1748) holding the mouthpiece of a hookah, the woman here cradles a vase of flowers. Colorful blossoms abound on the textiles and building and in the garden surrounding her.
-Yael Rice, 2015
architecture; plants; flowers; halos; women
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