Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Overall: 22 x 32.7 cm (8 11/16 x 12 7/8 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1996.296
The figure in white has his mouth open, indicating that he is singing, accompanied by the musician behind him.
This large and rare painting represents a southern Indian genre of portraiture influenced by works from the imperial Mughal court based in northern India. Each of the three rajas (kings), seated on the carpet in the center of an open terrace, is depicted as an individual portrait, as are the figures of the other eight participants who form this courtly retinue. The artist carefully observed the facial features that served to define their various personalities.
The occasion appears to be a diplomatic mission in which the visitor reads a letter to the two figures at the right, whose importance is indicated by their larger size. Other attendants or courtiers of lesser status are smaller in size, despite their location in the foreground.
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