A LORD AND HIS HAREM ENJOYING A FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON SHAB E BARAT MUGHAL, CIRCA 1660

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Lot 3101
A LORD AND HIS HAREM ENJOYING A FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON SHAB E BARAT
MUGHAL, CIRCA 1660

Sold for US$ 100,000 inc. premium
A LORD AND HIS HAREM ENJOYING A FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON SHAB E BARAT
MUGHAL, CIRCA 1660
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper; laid on an album page with a border of stylized poppies and tulips.
Image: 10 1/4 x 7 1/2 in. (26.2 x 19.1 cm);
Folio: 14 1/8 x 9 1/2 in. (36.3 x 24 cm)

Footnotes

  • On a terrace overlooking the river, a lavishly dressed prince indulges in the company of women in his zenana, set against an exuberant display of fireworks in the background. Leaning against gold cushions embellished with vegetal motifs, he rests his hand on that of the woman to his right, whose own splendor matches that of the occasion. His flirtations are momentarily interrupted by another beauty kneeling to his left who points to the fireworks exploding across the river.

    Behind the pavilion's rolled-up green and orange blind, three girls are equally enthralled by the skylights. The composition is cleverly balanced by the three musicians in the foreground, positioned diagonally across from them. These women clap and play the dholak, providing entertainment to the prince, as a duenna stands as chaperone behind them. Across from this group, a woman presumably responsible for the fruit and wine scattered around the terrace has lost sight of her duties, distracted by the fireworks. The white marble terrace is illuminated with the four golden candelabras resting on roundels. Across the lake, streamers, barrages, Catherine wheels, Roman candles, and rockets light up the pitch-black night in gold, wafting clouds of soft smoke downwind.

    The Mughal artist exhibits his virtuosity with this play on light, perspective, and portraiture. In attributing this painting to the 17th century, J.P. Losty cites the whiteness of the architecture coupled with the profuse use of gold in the outlines of the women's garments as indicating close temporal proximity to the Muhammad Shah period (1719-48) (ibid.). The physiognomy throughout this painting is also similar to a mid-seventeenth century Mughal miniature of a lady being led to bed published in Falk & Digby, Paintings from Mughal India , London, 1979, no.31. Princes enjoying the company of their zenana became a prevalent subject of painting after the mid-seventeenth century, at about the time of this work's creation.

    The present painting compares favorably to another scene of fireworks, in terms of theme and composition, signed by the artist Hashim of approximately the same date in the San Diego Museum of Art, see Binney, Indian Miniature Paintings, Portland, 1973, no.74, p.99.

    Published
    J.P.Losty, Indian Miniature Paintings from the Lloyd Collection and Other Properties, Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd, New York, 2011, pp.44 & 54-5, no.20.

    Provenance
    Private Collection, Switzerland, 1970s-2011
    Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd, London, 2011
    Pantheon Worldwide Ltd, Hong Kong, 2015
    Collection of a Private European Family
Contacts
A LORD AND HIS HAREM ENJOYING A FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON SHAB E BARAT MUGHAL, CIRCA 1660
A LORD AND HIS HAREM ENJOYING A FIREWORKS DISPLAY ON SHAB E BARAT MUGHAL, CIRCA 1660
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