Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Shah Jahan on a Terrace Holding a Pendant Set with His Portrait, dated 1627/8; Mughal
    Inscribed by Chitarman, dated 1627/8
    India
    Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; H. 15 3/8 in. (38.9 cm), W. 10 1/8 in. (25.6 cm)
    Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955 (55.121.10.24)

    Shah Jahan's love of sumptuous objects is doubly manifest in this extraordinary portrait-within-a-portrait, probably made as an imperial gift. The work clearly grows out of the fantastic allegorical portraits of Jahangir, especially in the treatment of the sky, where the clouds, inhabited by putti, receive color from and frame the monarch's sunlike nimbus. The technique and finish of the painting are superb. Great care has been taken to render tactile as well as visual qualities: the viewer senses the subtle contrasts between the flowered gauze of the emperor's tunic, his heavy gold sash, and his spinel-studded string pearls. Each element seems related to an almost suprahuman degree. The conceit that has the emperor holding a miniature portrait of himself intensifies the impact of this tour de force of illusionism. The beautifully considered borders perfectly enhance the miniature by extending the glow of blue and gold to the edge of the pages.

    Jewel portraits (shast) such as the one shown here were sometimes worn in the turban by nobles of the court. However, ironically, Shah Jahan banned the wearing of shast-portraits in this manner in the very year (1627) this painting was made, though, as is evident, they continued to be produced.

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  • Shah Jahan on a Terrace Holding a Pendant Set with His Portrait, dated 1627/8; Mughal
    Inscribed by Chitarman, dated 1627/8
    India
    Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper; H. 15 3/8 in. (38.9 cm), W. 10 1/8 in. (25.6 cm)
    Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955 (55.121.10.24)

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