Gum tempera and gold on paper
Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.312
With hennaed fingertips Mary holds the vase so baby Jesus doesn’t tip it over.
This painting of Joseph, the Virgin Mary, and the infant Jesus is based on European sources, but it also contains several details that are specifically Indian. For example, although Mary is dressed in classical European-style robes, she is adorned with jewelry of rubies and emeralds, the preferred gems of Mughal royalty. Her fingertips are also red with henna, and she wears a bindi on her forehead. The detailed rendering of the vase evokes the Catholic St. Francis as well as Indian worship of the sun. The vessel itself points to the appreciation of Chinese blue-and-white ware imported from imperial Ming-dynasty kilns to the court of Jahangir (reigned 1605–27).
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