A courtesan at her toilette seated on a terrace Murshidabad, circa 1760
gouache and gold on paper, buff and blue borders with floral motifs in gold 270 x 190 mm.
Nawab Mushid Quli Khan, from whom the town of Murshidabad acquired its name, moved his centre of administration from Dacca to Bengal in 1704. But it was not until the reign of the able Ali Vardi Khan (1740-1756) that painting at Murshidabad, now a prosperous and influential city, began to flourish, a trend which was to continue until the 1770s. Beautiful courtesans with thick eyelashes and darkened eyelids depicted on palace terraces along the Ganges were popular subjects.
For comparison see T. Falk and M. Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London 1981, nos. 368, i-viii.