Diwan-i-khas, Red Fort, Delhi


Diwan-i-khas, Red Fort, Delhi



Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
This detailed, intricate, and beautiful depiction of the magnificent Diwan-i-khas of the Red Fort in Delhi was probably included in the Indian Art Exhibition at Delhi in 1903. This was the time when artists were painting portraits of Mughal
emperors, queens, and princes, and representations of famous architectural sites, for the markets of Delhi and Lucknow. Painters of the later Mughal school tradition at Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, and Banaras especially preferred to paint
on rectangular or oval ivory plaques which were generally used to decorate carved ebony caskets and jewellery boxes.
In the exhibition catalogue, George Watt refers to some exquisite paintings made by artist Muhammad Hussain Khan on ivory and paper. This artist won the silver medal for his entries, which included portraits and interiors of famous monuments at Agra, Delhi, and Amritsar. These may be the works purchased by Sir Ratan Tata that are now in the Museum. The 15 paintings on ivory consist of architectural studies of the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, the Golden Temple Amritsar, and portrait studies of Mughal begums. The paintings are done in watercolour and gold3 in the European
method of “wash and colour” in which the colour was first dissolved in water. While using gold, the pigment was deposited at the bottom and used by painters when needed.
The painting of the Diwan-i-khas successfully recreates the grandeur of the special audience hall where the Mughal
emperor Shahjahan met his courtiers and important personalities.
The trend of painting monuments on paper started around 1815 in Delhi with topographical drawings of local monuments. Painters worked for local patrons as well as for British officers, among them Thomas Metcalfe – a member of the Archaeological Survey of India who commissioned studies of Delhi monuments. This painting can be compared with one such watercolour painting made on paper by Muzaffar Ali Khan in c. 1840.


Indian Miniature Paintings


attributed to artist Muhammad Hussain Khan

Object Type

Miniature Painting


Ivory, gold




Painting on ivory


early 20th Century CE




11.4 x 16.6 cm