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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.

 

 
 
 
India
A Bejeweled Lady
Gouache with red border

Image: 5 7/8 x 3 1/2 inches
Sheet: 7 1/4 x 5 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Stephen Hamilton in honor of Clydia J. Cuykendall

Arts of Asia
 
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This painting of an elegantly dressed woman in a European-style velvet costume dates to the end of the Mughal dynasty (1526–1707). The Mughal reign fostered a great flowering in the visual and poetic arts that extended throughout the Indian subcontinent.

In addition to her luxurious gown, the subject of this painting wears ornate slippers, one of which has slipped off to reveal the toe of a pink silk stocking. She is draped in jewels and pearls and holds a small gold cup and ewer. A broad-brimmed hat keeps the sun off her light face; her pale skin was associated with not having to work outside and was thus a highly valued trait. She sits in a gilt wood chair with pink tasseled bolster.

A Bejeweled Lady was painted in Kotah, one of the Mughal empire's major artistic centers that continued to flourish after the fall of the dynasty. Though influenced by Mughal court painting, artists from Kotah established their own school, incorporating vivid use of color and tending to favor landscapes over portraiture. This love of nature can be seen in the careful rendering of the garden around the woman.