Portrait of a lady


Portrait of a lady



In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, artists in Hyderabad shifted their attention from painting official portraits of kings and courtiers to depicting idealized beauty in various moods and situations. The Museum has a wide range of such paintings. Though the landscape and actions are repetitive, the ladies represent a lyrical charm, as is attested by this portrait of an elegant princess.

The profile of the princess is drawn against a copper-green background, typical of the Deccan. Seated at a jharoka window the princess wears a muslin jama (tunic), a dupatta (veil), a Jahangiri turban, and pearl jewellery. She leans against a bolster, and holds a flower in her hand.

Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) started the tradition of jharoka darshan whereby the emperor would sit in a jharoka or a balcony window and give his subjects a chance to see him. The jharoka darshan portrait showing only a bust in profile became increasingly popular during Shahjahan’s reign (1627-58). Artists who came to the Deccan from the Mughal courts may have introduced this style of portraiture here. The princess with arched eyebrows, lotusshaped eyes, high forehead, and small tight lips represents a picture of typical Deccani beauty.

A beautiful qitta (calligraphic note) on the reverse says:
He is the source of honour
May the sun of your good fortune shine
May the lightning of your sword
illuminate the world forever
May your pleasant heart fulfil the desire
of your friends
May your fine existence last till
The borders of the portrait and the calligraphic panel are decorated with bold flower patterns.

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.


Indian Miniature Paintings

Object Type

Miniature Painting


Opaque watercolour and gold on paper






18th Century CE




44 x 27.8 cm (with border), 22.5 x 14.1 cm (without border)