Princess and attendant in trompe l’oeil window

Princess and attendant in trompe l’oeil window

c. 1765

Aqil Khan

(Indian, active mid-1700s)

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 12.5 x 7.8 cm (4 15/16 x 3 1/16 in.); Overall: 44 x 31.6 cm (17 5/16 x 12 7/16 in.)

Gift of George P. Bickford 1955.297


Did you know?

Unlike in portraits of the emperor, women sit on the outside of the royal window.


Although unidentifiable by inscription or individualized portrait features, the seated figure can be recognized as a powerful royal woman, the model for whom might be the mother or wife of Muhammad Shah, the last Mughal emperor able to fully support the arts at the imperial court. The halo of light comes from the sky, indicating divine light behind her, rather than being generated from her. A golden window shade has been rolled up to reveal the princess, with her attendant holding royal emblems of honor: the white cloth and the peacock-feather whisk. The carpet draped over the sill echoes that of the balcony rail where the emperor traditionally showed himself to the people. Rather than taking the view of an outsider, the viewer looks from inside the palace out to the women on the terrace and the wooded landscape beyond.

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