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Eastern Encounters pattern
Eastern Encounters

Drawn from the Royal Library's collection of South Asian books and manuscripts

CAT. NO. 42

Calligraphy by Mir Ali and Mughal painting of a lady at night by Muhammad Panah.

Mughal, <i>c</i>.1730–50

Fol. 12v from an eighteenth-century Mughal album (see cat. no. 38) | Painting in opaque watercolour including gold metallic paint on paper; set into composite margins of dyed papers with opaque watercolour and gold metallic paint ornament, edged with gold paper | 42.1 × 28.0 cm (folio); 14.0 × 8.8 cm (image) | RCIN 1005068.n

This painting of a lady wrapped in a yellow outdoor cloak was painted by one of Muhammad Shah’s artists, Muhammad Panah, to whom a number of works in this album are ascribed. It is a copy in reverse of the seventeenth-century painting which it faces, a phenomenon seen in many openings of the album and one which reflects the training practices of Mughal artists whereby works of older masters were traced or copied. Muhammad Panah went a step further, however, as the lady in the seventeenth-century painting opposite originally stood against a blue-green background (as in cat. no. 41) which the eighteenth-century artist overpainted with a heavy black wash. Muhammad Panah gave a night-time setting to both the original painting and his mirror-copy here in which he painted gold speckles in the upper portion to create the illusion of a starry night sky. Discernible on close inspection is the less nuanced shading of the later image. It is likely that many eighteenth-century alterations of earlier Mughal paintings were related to the covering of areas of paint loss and the repair of holes, largely due to insect damage.

Apart from his paintings in this album, Muhammad Panah is known only by three other works, one of which is dated 1726 and another 1742.[165]

  • amal-e muhammad panah / the work of Muhammad Panah

  • [165] The three known signed works by Muhammad Panah in other collections are Mughal ladies on a terrace at night (1139 AH / AD 1726, Bodl. MS Douce Or. a3, fol. 23r) and two portraits of Nadir Shah (Bodl. MS Ouseley Add. 173, fol. 29v, dated 1741 and a later copy of the same image, V&A IM.237–1921). Two further paintings of Nadir Shah in the Israel Museum are attributed to Muhammad Panah: O.S. 3975.10.77 and 4356.11.77.

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