This painting, a masterpiece in Indian miniature art form, representing a royal lady, obviously a princess, seen across the gavaksha, or the oriel balcony of her wind-palace, presents a unique synthesis of various painting styles of medieval, as well as contemporary India. The features of the figure, slightly angular face, sharp nose, large eyes, broad forehead, tall neck, exceptionally long fingers and slim tall figure, a great beauty by any parameter, are characteristic elements of Kishangarh art style of Rajasthan. The damsel portrayed here has, in her great aesthetic beauty and elegant transparent costume, unique resemblance with Bani-Thani portraits in which the Kishangarh art school discovered its finest model of feminine beauty. The architecture, specially the style of oriel window, its dome, semi-circular eave, pilasters, pendentives that define the arch and the bracket, comprising of multiple lotuses, which supports this balcony, are features of Rajasthani castle and palace architecture. This dome and eave-type had developed in Bengal architecture quite early and was seen in its fully evolved form at the Vishnupur temple. Mansingh of Amer, when he was Akbar's governor of Bengal, saw the temple and was highly impressed with this form. He brought this architectural style to Rajasthan, where, adding to it the indigenous as well as Mughal elements, the craftsmen of Rajasthan led it to its ever finest, most sophisticated and accomplished form.
The border, painted elaborately using soft colour tones, which frame-like contains the actual painting, the variedly designed fine jali, or trellis work and the arch motifs, used for defining the opening of the oriel window and the alcoves on the right and left of the dome, are elements of classical Mughal architecture. Floral designs on borders were quite common in Mughal paintings right since the days of Jahangir, although the lotus flower and the lotus leaf motifs emerged only in late phase of Mughal art. And, finally, the painting uses the globally known and appreciated Mysore technique, which by assimilating all above elements in its own characteristic style has created this exceptional work of art. It discovers its forms, obviously the architectural members- the trellises, bracket, dome, eaves, the framing columns and pilasters, pendentives and all projections by laying thicker colour layers, which give to the painting the effects of embossing. These special effects are created without involving the canvas but only by mixing into the colours the natural thickening agents.
This splendid work of art is the formal portrait of a princess clad in fine transparent, but quite elegant costume and bejeweled gorgeously using diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls and other precious stones. She has been painted as standing in the gavaksha of her chamber, which obviously comprises the part of her wind palace, the usual castle type, which the feudatory of Rajasthan got built for summer. The princess is in a formal posture and, to highlight the beauty of her form, the artist has minutely and distinctively identified each of the members of her figure, her long slanting arms, thin long waving fingers, well formed long neck, subdued belly, sharp pointed nose, elongated fish eyes and slightly angular chin. For giving her figure pleasant contrast the artist has used a deep grey background around it. This background is itself contained within the oriel window used for further framing the entire composition. The effect, which the architecture creates in the painting, is as much pleasing as is the beauty of the princess, or rather her beauty has been sublimated to such heights by the gorgeous contrast, which the framing architecture of her palace apartment, its arched oriel window, dome seeking its height by repeated designing motifs and variedly designed trellises, provides.
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.
Of Related Interest:
Mughal Art Gallery
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