- Museum number
- Object: Birth of a prince
Painting from an album containing three paintings (loose, not bound), one Mughal and two from Rajasthan.
The setting is within a palace; a white city looms beyond the pink walls in the background. The artist has perhaps chosen to leave the city unpainted so as not to intrude on the colourful details of the scene inside the palace. In a room in the palace sits the Maharaja with a gold halo around his head. He wears a white and gold jama and a jewelled white green, red and gold patterned turban topped with a feather. He holds a flower in his hand in the usual manner of Rajput portraits. Two courtiers in a smaller size seated behind him indicate a hierarchy in rank; the most important figure always being the largest (a device frequently used in Rajput painting). An attendant in a long green jama fans him with a morchal.
The architecture is in the traditional Rajput style of a frame containing a room in a building into which the viewer can see. Above the formal court room in which the Maharajah is seated is the zenana or harem where five lady attendants or princesses surround the queen and her newly born son. The infant is painted in emulation of the blue skinned deity, Krishna, perhaps an indication of the religious devotion of the royal family to the Krishna cult. The infant garbed in an orange jama wears an enormous jewel encrusted gold crown on his head indicating that he is the heir apparent to the throne.
In a carpeted courtyard, three male musicians, two female singers and two female dancers entertain the King. The birth of a prince would have been a joyous occasion and would have been celebrated in the kingdom with joyful song and dance. The male musicians wear long jamas reaching their ankles and simple turbans; the ladies are dressed in colourful ghagras, cholis and odhnis. Their jewellery, motifs on dress and carpet are finely detailed.
Behind the musicians stands the bard recounting the glories of the ruling house and the royal lineage, and the court astrologer with book in hand predicting the horoscope of the infant prince. An attendant stands guard in a patch of white paint on the right corner of the illustration, presumably outside the palace walls, while musicians seated on top of the gateway entrance also on the right herald the good tidings to all. A waterway in the immediate foreground depicts the royal barge and boatman waiting. Beyond the salmon pink courtyard cypress and other trees indicate the palace garden.
- Production date
- 1775-1800 (circa.(dated c.1725 on reverse.))
Height: 41 centimetres (page)
Height: 31.80 centimetres (painting without orange and black margins)
Width: 31 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The style of figure painting reminds one of Mughal painting in the period of Muhammad Shah (c.1719-1748), but Rajput attributes of crescent shaped chhatri on top of marble pavilion as well as the blue skin colour of the infant prince testify to the Rajasthani origin of this painting. Robert Skelton feels this was painted in a thikana with Jaipur influences.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018 Dec - 2019 Dec, London, BM, G33, rotation
- Acquisition date
- Registration number