A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735
India (Rajasthan, Kishangarh)
Ink, opaque and transparent watercolor, and gold on paper; 18 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. (47 x 33.7 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1996 (1996.100.1)
The Kishangarh atelier is renowned for its paintings and for highly finished, large-scale, tinted drawings such as this one. Images of a woman drinking wine, holding flowers, or playing an instrument became popular in Rajasthani painting during the first half of the eighteenth century, evolving in part from imperial Mughal precedents. Here, an entertainer appears to have transformed into a nayika, an idealized Indian heroine and personification of female beauty. She is adorned in courtly costume and jewels and plucks the string of her tanpura (a drone instrument of the lute family, frequently played by women) with henna-dyed fingertips. The drawing must date from before the 1740s, when a far more stylized and exaggerated facial type became the vogue at Kishangarh.