Mughal, Delhi, ca. 1750.
A NOBLE KNEELING AT THE FEET OF A LADY. Gouache on paper.
While the passionate noble appears to be professing his love and adoration for the lady, she uses her left hand to either balance herself, or more probably, to stave off his ardent gesture. Both are dressed in a most elegant manner, she adorned sumptuously in gold, while his solid green robe (jama) is tied with a gold sash (patka) decorated with flowers. Gold is used in his headgear as well, implemented in a wide band of cloth securing the folds of the wrapped turban. Even the attendant, who raises her hand to her mouth in a gesture of amazement, has been clothed in a fittingly decorative manner.
The unknown artist is a master of the manipulation of color to provide an ancillary relevance to the emotional content of the figures. The scene takes place within a setting of minimalist colors, grey and white, providing a calm backdrop. The placement of orange works in contract to this backdrop to energize the composition and reinforce the dramatic action. During the reign of the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah (r. 1719-48), imperial artists and also artists working for the nobles of the court, used just this color scheme to great effect. The orange swath of drapery, pulled back to reveal the interior space beyond, is a device learned by the Indian artists of the late 16th century from Western European manuscripts, which has continued into the 18th century.
Slight flaking of the paint around the nobleman's robe, otherwise in excellent condition.
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