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A PRINCE LYING ON A BED WITH ATTENDANTS AT HIS SIDE

A PRINCE LYING ON A BED WITH ATTENDANTS AT HIS SIDE

Item Description:



Mughal, India, c. 1640, set within 18th Century borders

Opaque pigment on paper heightened with gold

Image 4 5/8 x 7 1/4 in. (11.7 x 18.5 cm.)
Folio 10 1/4 x 14 1/2 in. (26.5 x 37 cm.) Gazdar Bros.

There is a very closely related page in the Mittal Collection, dated 1640 (Acc. No. 76.109), see J. Mittal, Sublime Delight Through Works of Art from the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad, 2007, no. 27.

For works produced in a similar style see B.N. Goswamy and E. Fischer, Wonders of a Golden Age, Zurich, 1987, no. 32, and M. C. Beach, E. Fischer and B. N. Goswamy, Masters of Indian Painting I, Zurich, 2011, p. 335.

This striking painting depicts a prince or nobleman reclining on a bed surrounded by male attendants. The prince extends his right leg to a kneeling youth who massages his foot in both hands. The prince turns his head away towards the bolster behind him. A figure stands at the head of the bed waving a cooling peacock fan over the recumbent prince. A kneeling figure, also at the head of the bed, waits to serve the prince with food and wine that is spread out before them on a golden carpet. A further figure in red is seated at the foot of the bed, his right hand apparently raised in concern for his master. On the floor in front of him are manuscripts bound in green and black leather. At the foot of the bed, two further figures, possibly guards stand in attendance. One holds a sword and shield, and the other appears to hold the curved handle of a walking cane. The painting has been set within an elaborate floral border in the Lucknow style of the 18th century.


The taste for intimate and informal royal portraits that developed under Jahangir, was carried on into the reign of Shah Jahan by the artists Payag and Balchand, both of whom had begun their careers in Akbar’s atelier. The current painting is similar in style to work by these artists from the 1640s and 50s when both artists increasingly employed a sombre palette, both relying on the effects of chiaroscuro to highlight figures and details. Elements of the current composition bear close comparison to a painting titled Dara Shikoh and A Young Woman on a Terrace, previously attributed to Balchand and now to Payag, (see S. R. Canby, Princes, Poets and Paladins, Islamic and Indian paintings from the Collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan, London, 1998, p. 150). In particular, the edges of the bed, the golden carpet alongside the bed, and the doorway are treated in a very similar manner in both works.


Early in his reign, Shah Jahan commissioned a very fine copy of the Gulistan (Rose Garden) of Sa’di that was intended to rival the one commissioned by his father between 1610 and 1615. Both manuscripts follow the same oblong format as the current painting, and a page titled The Honourable Qadi Caught by Surprise with a Young Man, attributed to Payag, shows similar characteristics to the current work. Although the exact circumstances depicted in the current painting are unclear, the composition does not seem to correspond to any specific scene from the Gulistan, nor do the dimensions of the image match the known pages from the Gulistan manuscript. The fine quality of the decorative elements in the current work, such as the treatment of the faces, the detailing of the hanging textiles, the goblets and vases, and the delicate scenes depicted in the murals on the back wall of the interior, are all reminiscent of other works attributed to Payag, but the painting lacks some of the brooding atmosphere that is so characteristic of the best works by the artist. It is therefore possible that the work was produced in the imperial atelier at the same period as the Gulistan manuscript, but by another artist, working under the tutelage of Payag, or his brother Balchand.

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A PRINCE LYING ON A BED WITH ATTENDANTS AT HIS SIDE

Listed price: $3,000,000.00
 

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