Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Page: 30.8 x 30.5 cm (12 1/8 x 12 in.)
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 2013.334
The man shown smoking a hookah is the Mughal imperial ruler.
The shrewd imperial oligarch smoking the hookah and his brothers ran the Mughal government after the death of Emperor Alamgir in 1707 until the rise of Emperor Muhammad Shah in 1719. They were ruthless, self-serving kingmakers who caused the assassinations and accessions of six different members of the royal family to the Mughal throne in Delhi. The two attendants behind him exchange a worried glance, and the rare use of a flat gray sky behind the white marble terrace suggests the artist’s mood about the future strength and prosperity of the empire.
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