Page from the Nasir al-Din Shah Album: Portrait of a Mughal Woman (Primary Title)
This sumptuous folio is from an imperial Mughal album produced during Shah Jahan’s reign and reportedly taken to Iran after Nadir Shah’s 1739 sack of Delhi. The collection is now named after the 19th-century Iranian ruler under whose auspices the folios were variously altered. Only during Shah Jahan’s reign did Mughal paintings begin to feature women as independent subjects. Dressed in fashionable garments, this Mughal lady stands in a grassy field of flowers against a bluegreen backdrop. The painter dwells on sumptuous textiles, transparent robes, and delicate flowers. His extraordinary attention to such eye-catching minutiae conceals the rather generalized and impersonal quality of the depiction. Women in other Shah Jahan-period portraits are almost identical in appearance, and it is likely this is a portrait of an ideal woman rather than an individual.
Shah Jahan Period
Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Paul Mellon
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 89-b, pp. 252-255)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC
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