Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Melancholy Courtesan

ca. 1750
India (Rajasthan, Bundi, or Kota [?])
Ink, gold and opaque watercolor on paper
12 7/8 x 10 3/4 in. (32.7 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Evelyn Kranes Kossak and Josephine L. Berger-Nadler Gifts and funds from various donors, 1995
Accession Number:
Not on view
Of the several pictures of this type that are known, this example is the finest. No inscription identifies the subject, but the painting is probably the idealized portrait of a courtesan. She has raised a small cup to her lips and seems lost in reverie. Her melancholy may be due simply to alcohol, but it is more likely that she was associated with a particular story that has not come down to us. The practice of making images of courtesans migrated from Persia into the artistic repertoire of Muslim India and from there to Hindu painting. This compositional formula derives from Mughal prototypes, but the handling of color, pattern, and space is purely Rajput.
Related Objects

Krishna Revels with the Gopis: Page from a Dispersed Gita Govinda (Song of the Cowherds)

Date: ca. 1630–40 Medium: Opaque watercolor and silver on paper Accession: 2003.165 On view in:Gallery 251

Maharana Sangram Singh Riding a Prize Stallion

Artist: Stipple Master (Indian, active ca. 1690–1715) Date: ca. 1712 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and Basra pearls on paper Accession: 2004.403 On view in:Gallery 251

Maharana Sarup Singh Inspects a Prize Stallion

Artist: Tara (Indian, active 1836–1870) Date: 1845–46 Medium: Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper Accession: 2001.344 On view in:Not on view

The Gopis Plead with Krishna to Return Their Clothing, Page from a Bhagavata Purana (Ancient Stories of Lord Vishnu) series

Date: ca. 1610 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Accession: 2001.437 On view in:Gallery 251

Equestrian Portrait of a Nobleman

Date: ca. 1710–20 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Accession: 2002.411 On view in:Gallery 251