Private Collection, USA
In this richly coloured painting, a royal lady is seated on a lilac mat on a white terrace leaning against a lilac bolster. She holds a hand-held hookah or nargila in one hand and its mouthpiece in the other about to put it into her mouth. She is dressed in dark purple shalwar with a gold diaper pattern covered by a light blue peshwaj and a dark blue dupatta with floral ends. Heavy jewellery loaded with pearls adorns her person. Beyond the marble terrace are serried rows of white flowers and a green background that ends above in clouds. A nimbus is meant to suggest she is a princess. A tray with gold flasks and covered pots sits on the mat beside her.
The girl’s facial profile, her heavy jewellery, the orange streak over her eyebrow are similar to a fragmentary painting in the Freer Gallery, Washington DC, attributed to the Jaipur artist Sahib Ram (Aitken 2011, fig. 7). A seated portrait of Maharaja Pratap Singh in a private collection in New York (ibid., fig. 10) shows the same kind of arrangement of gorgeous clothes spread out tastefully over the body of the subject and the terrace. Similar too are the arrangements of the ripples of the peshwaj when compared with the Maharaja’s jama as they fall onto the mat, thereby allowing the differently coloured lining of the garments to be seen in a uniform pattern. The colour scheme here contrasting light and dark blues and purples is particularly striking.
Aitken, M.E., ‘Sahib Ram’, in Beach, M.C., Fischer, E., and Goswamy, B.N., Masters of Indian Painting, Artibus Asiae, Zurich, 2011, pp. 623-40
EXPERT : J. P. Losty
J. P. Losty was for many years curator of Indian visual materials in the British Library in London and has published many books and articles on painting in India from the 12th to the 19th centuries.
Artiana would like to thank J. P. Losty for his expertise and assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.