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(Indian, active c. 1730–1765)
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper (recto)
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 2013.343.a
A gigantic crocodile swallows a horse and rider attempting to cross the river.
In a scene set on a carpeted terrace in the women’s palace quarters, an older woman of the harem drags a young prince with a white blindfold over his eyes before a princess grasping a document. Such a scene evokes a literary allusion of a princess who selects her suitor, but it also resonates with circumstances at the Mughal court. Signed and dated by the artist, this painting was completed at a time when powerful women wielded control over the emperor, and Ahmad Shah Bahadur (reigned 1748–54), son and successor of Muhammad Shah, had been blinded and deposed less than one year before.
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