He was once charged and arrested for gambling but with his poetic talent recognised he was not only released but also invited to the Shahi Musahara. His debut secured for him in the Mughal court a permanent place and the friendship of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last of Mughals and himself a poet great calibre. Ghalib soon rose to various positions, first to the Ustad to the heir apparent Fakhr-ud-din and then to that of the Emperor himself. After people's revolt failed, Ghalib was once again in hot waters. Many of his friends and colleagues, charged for treason against British rule, were executed. Ghalib was somehow spared but only to pass the rest of his life in despair and with a broken heart.
This portrait represents the later phase of Ghalib's life when he was at the pinnacle of his success. His lavish carpet, huge bolster, 'huqqa', house and richly embroidered gown speak of his courtly grandeur. A pair of books beside him define his poetic talent. The Red Fort Museum, New Delhi has in its collection a portrait of Ghalib rendered in circa 1855, that is, during his life time. This portrait depicts an exactly similar Ghalib, the same likeness, posture and setting. The two portraits are exact consonant of each other. The portrayal is formal, but with its realistic approach it captures on canvas Ghalib's mood and his simplicity amidst his rich provisions.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of ancient Indian literature. Dr Daljeet is the chief curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the National Museum of India, New Delhi. They have both collaborated on numerous books on Indian art and culture.