Indian Miniature Painting India Antique Delhi Mughal 19th Akbar Islamic
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Indian Miniature Painting India Antique Delhi Mughal 19th Akbar Islamic:
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An Evening of Leisure
Delhi, Late 19th
35 x 23 cm (Including Borders)
Natural Pigment and Gold on Paper
A prince has retired to the countryside, just outside his fortified city, for an evening of leisure with a group of ladies from his zenana (ladies quarters or harem). The sun sets over the group as they enjoy a truly idyllic afternoon. The courtesan to the lower left catches fish from the nearby stream while another preps the fish and prepares what looks like fish curry. The detail is such that close inspection reveals that she has removed the heads of the small fish before cooking them. Two other ladies converse over a cup of wine. At this point in the evening, it has become necessary for one of them to hold on to the nearby tree for support. The princely figure, who has been modeled on the Mughal emperor Akbar, relaxes against a gold bolster and holds his favorite lady in his arms. Three nearby ladies see to it that the couple are not bothered by fly's and that their wine cups are never empty. The range of enamel like colors, complexity of design, and fine workmanship all make this an unusually attractive picture. The artist of the picture has signed it to the lower right. The painting is framed by an equally impressive gold on black floral design much like the Mughal pictures of the early 17th century.
While it is well known that the tradition of Mughal painting was at it's Zennith during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan, paintings of high quality were still produced long after. Even after the fall of the empire on the 14th of September 1857 painting in the Mughal style continued. This period in Indian painting has been almost entirely overlooked by scholars and as such little is known of painting activity at Delhi during the British Raj (the period between 1858 and 1947). The present picture was purchased in India by Charles Umpherston Aitchison the Scottish born Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab (1882-87). He founded Aitchison College, Lahore in 1886 and finally left India in November 1888. He served as Chief Commissioner of the British Crown Colony of Burma from March 1878 to May 1880. Aitchison returned home with a small, but well selected, group of curiosities from India from which the present picture belonged.
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