Ozias Humphry R.A., Prince Jawan Bakht (c.1749-1788) the Shahzada, three-quarter length, seated, his arms folded across his sword, wearing white muslin dress and pale blue turban, the background of a window and pillars

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Lot 116Y
Ozias Humphry R.A., Prince Jawan Bakht (c.1749-1788) the Shahzada, three-quarter length, seated, his arms folded across his sword, wearing white muslin dress and pale blue turban, the background of a window and pillars

Sold for £ 13,200 (US$ 16,011) inc. premium
Ozias Humphry R.A. (British, 1742-1810)
Prince Jawan Bakht (c.1749-1788) the Shahzada, three-quarter length, seated, his arms folded across his sword, wearing white muslin dress and pale blue turban, the background of a window and pillars.
Inscribed on reverse The Shaw [sic] Zada/ painted at Lucknow/ 1786/ by Ozias Humphry/ R.A./ No 29, turned pearwood frame.
Oval, 95mm (3 3/4in) high
Provenance: The Collection of Mr. R.S. Aitchison
Christie's; 8 June 1971, lot 30 (600gns. to Asprey)
Literature: G.C. Williamson, Life and Works of Ozias Humphry R.A., 1918, ill.opp.p.146
Mildred Archer, India and British portraiture, 1770-1825, 1979, pp.180-1 & 193, ill. pl.115 p.186, no.111
Daphne Foskett, Collecting Miniatures, 1979, p.397, pl.115A

Footnotes

  • Prince Jawan Bakht was the eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam. He visited Lucknow in 1784 to ask Warren Hastings for help in freeing his father from the Mahrattas. Hastings described the Prince as 'gentle, lively, possessed of a high sense of humour, of a sound judgement, and uncommonly quick penetration, and a well-cultivated understanding, with a spirit of resignation and an equality of temper almost exceeding any within reach of my own knowledge or recollection'.

    Humphry reached India in August 1785 and finding patronage in Calcutta disappointing headed for Lucknow. On route he passed through Banaras where he met the painter Charles Smith who was also heading to the same destination. Both artists had approached John Macpherson, the Governor-General for letters of recommendation to the Nawab and despite the fact that Macpherson had stipulated that Humphry was not to compete with Smith for commissions, they were now in a position of direct rivalry. They both raced to Lucknow and arrived within sixteen hours of each other on 20 February 1786.

    The events of the following months are recorded in Humphry's diary and letters. March was spent arranging appointments with Nawab Asaf-ud-daula, his ministers and the Mughal prince Jawan Bakht. On the 8th April a meeting took place between the Nawab, Smith, Humphry, Col. Harper (the Resident) and Cpt. Kennaway to discuss future sittings. Humphry showed the Nawab his miniature of Macpherson and records that this was 'the first his Highness had ever seen in miniature from Europe'. The Nawab then sat simultaneously to the two artists on the 10th, 12th and 22nd April. At the second sitting, Humphry was shown a portfolio of Indian miniatures and noted that they were 'without any proportion or knowledge of the figure, perspective or effect'.

    On the 14th April, Humphry was presented to Prince Jawan Bakht and on the 16th April the latter sat jointly to Smith and Humphry. 'The Prince', Humphry notes 'ordered the masnad (a small throne) to be brought and sat on it during the whole sitting which was about an hour. The Nabob [Asaf-ud-daula] behind and between me and Mr Smith, to observe the process of European art'. This first sitting was followed by further sittings on the 20th and 26th April and a final sitting on the 15th June when the present lot was finally completed.

    On the 4th May, on receipt of no payment for these commissions, Humphry wrote to Macpherson to say that he was not prepared to undertake the Prince's further commissions, if he was not to receive any payment. He thought that he would leave Lucknow since 'I cannot paynt in oyl at Lucknow and there seems little or no demand for miniatures that one has a chance of being paid for'. However he found himself torn between remaining in Lucknow without paid work but where the climate suited his health better or returning to Calcutta where he had heard of the arrival of John Smart with whom he did not want to compete for work. He decided on the former course of action and over the next months painted Hasan Reza Khan, Haidar Beg Khan and Saib Zada the Nawab's son.

    The large scale and finish of Humphry’s work from his stay in Lucknow would appear to be a direct result of his frustration at not being allowed to paint in oil on a large scale. The legacy of this is a body of work, which largely outstrips many of the commissions he painted in his native country.
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