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Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd.

Jahangir with a Lady
By a Hyderabad artist, circa 1760 A.D.
Opaque watercolour with gold on paper
440 by 320 mm.

A prince apparently modelled on the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-27) is seated on a terrace in close embrace with a lady. He seems to have just given her a heavy gold chain which she is passing unseen by him to her duenna.

The artist is extremely interested in correct perspective, so that the carpet is viewed in perspective rather than the usual plan while the lines of the architecture and the terrace recede more or less correctly. This interest in perspective and the extremely rich and detailed finishing of the painting recall the world of the Hyderabad Ragamala of c. 1760 in the British Library, collected by Richard Johnson in Hyderabad in the 1780s (Falk and Archer, pp. 506-14), whose artists betray similar concerns for correct perspective and rich effects. This may be contrasted with a painting of Shah Jahan enthroned in the Binney collection from a slightly earlier period (Zebrowski, fig. 224), in which it can be seen that while its artist is clearly interested in spatial recession, he is unaware of how to achieve it.

The increasing presence from the 1750s in the Hyderabad state of officials of the French and English East India Companies, with their accompanying examples of European prints, accounts for the difference in approach. An original portrait of Jahangir seated cross-legged in a similar pose with a lady is in the Polier collection in Berlin (Hickmann and Enderlein, pl. 21).

Private collection, Switzerland

The inscription in the cartouche reads:
Irshad al-Haqq 'Initiation to the Truth'
However, its exact meaning is not clear in relation to the painting.

Hickmann, R., and V. Enderlein, Indische Albumblätter, Miniaturen und Kalligraphien aus der Zeit der Moghul-Kaiser, Leipzig, 1979
Falk, T., and Archer, M., Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London, 1981
Zebrowski, M., Deccani Painting, London. 1983

all text & images � Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd.

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