Our miniature portrait, dating about 1830, depicts Arjumand Banu Begum, better known as Mumtaz Mahal (from Persian “Jewel of the Palace”), chief consort of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. She died soon after giving birth to her fourteenth child in 1631. The following year, the Emperor started the construction of the mausoleum that would have housed the body of his beloved, the famous Taj Mahal.
There are no existing contemporary portrays of Mumtaz Mahal, but her story became so popular and iconic during 18th and 19th century that many Indian artists preserved her memory by painting her beautiful figure in precious miniatures.
The miniature is further embellished by a fine table picture frame in metal and micro mosaic of Venetian production (by the end of 19th century), decorated by a wreath of micro murrine depicting daisies and pansies on a bright turquois background.
During the Victorian age Indian miniatures were particularly researched by English collectors. Therefore, it was not that uncommon that such forms of craftsmanship – no matter how far away from each other – would be put together with elegant and pleasant outcomes, like in the case of our miniature.
India/Venice, 19th century
Diameter (frame in micro mosaic included): 4 cm
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