The painting is contained within a broad border – almost half of the canvas space, designed with floral plant-motifs – three leaves and three flowers, much in the style of miniatures from the period of Jahangir, a cult also followed by the artists of Shahjahan’s court. Symmetrically laid and uniformly conceived, the flower-plants may not be treated as realistic but they are also not stylized or arabesque-type. Despite a pale opaque background and repetition of the same form all across, these flower-motifs do not breathe a feeling of monotony.
The actual painting, within the frame, portrays a young handsome prince as engaged in making love with his consort in his bed-chamber. Besides wearing a Jahangiri turban the figure of the royal personage has been conceived with an appearance as the Mughal Emperor Jahangir is seen having during the early days of his youth in many of his contemporary miniatures. With her back supported on a huge bolster overlaid with a cushion the princess, with her breasts swelling with the heat of passion, and her eyes, melting with his touch, is lying on her bed, while with one of his arms holding her from behind, and with the other, clasping her to his bosom from the front, the prince is almost riding over her. A delicately designed silk quilt is laid covering their lower halves but censoring the movement of their legs does not appear to be its job. Besides the turban the prince is putting on a tight full sleeved transparent muslin upper wear, while his mistress is almost semi-nude. She is wearing a blouse, though not so much for concealing her breasts as for more sensuously revealing them, and a small black scarf on her head seems to have been added to her ensemble only to further enhance the lustre of her already shining black hair.
The walls of the bedchamber are lined with silk tapestry in bright magenta and printed with floral motifs in gold. The colour of tapestry has been repeated also in bolster and bed-cover’s frill. The artist has introduced at equal distance of the wall-space some black stripes embellished with floral motifs rendered in gold, and a door-frame design made of such stripes, for breaking its monotony. They are attended upon by two maids, one carrying a flywhisk, and other, a wine-jar and a tray with a goblet in it. Their dressing pattern reveals their identities as maids. However, all four figures have alike sharp features and fair complexions, though while the faces of the maids are slightly whitish, those of the royal couple reveal golden glow.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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