8. Ruler and consort seated in a composite palanquin
Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper
Folio: 5 ⅜ x 7 ⅝ in. (13.5 x 19.5 cm.)
Acquired in 1960, thence by descent.
Composite forms were a popular theme in Indian miniature painting, depicting animals, demons, or other figures made up of an amalgam of animals or people. Here, a group of six humans intertwine to form a palanquin, carried by two servants in flowing jamas. Within the structure, a ruler (denoted by the soft nimbus surrounding his head) is seated against a bolster cushion in conversation with his consort. The figures are garbed in soft lilac and earthy green with contrasting yet complimentary orange and yellow tones, creating a color palette that is particularly pleasing. The bare background displays a pale blue hue, with soft green and delicate tufts of grass below.
For another example of a 19th-century composite palanquin painting, see the collection of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum (acc. 1988.51.10.)