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Catalog Data

Abid  Search this
Lacquer over wood frame and papier-mache or pasteboard, opaque watercolor, gold and silver foil strips on paper
H x W x D (overall): 17.8 x 11.8 x 1.7 cm (7 x 4 5/8 x 11/16 in)
India or Iran
portrait by Abid dated 1628; assembled late 17th century
, Reign of Shah Jahan
The mirror case bears a half-length portrait of a nude woman within an oval on its interior. Its sensitive line and subtle shading, as well as the remarkably rendered hand grasping a perfume bottle or wine cup, reveal the hand of a master artist at the Mughal court.
The Mughal portrait was set into a mirror case that can be attributed by style to 18th-century Iran. An x-ray of the cover's interior reveals that the glittering background and quince blossom branches extend only slightly beneath the oval, which indicates that the oval portrait's inclusion is contemporaneous with the case's production. The glittering background, which is seen in numerous 18th century lacquer objects from Iran, is here produced by the meticulous placement of minute strips of silver upon the surface; its surface appears golden because of the lacquer varnish. The thinner borders on the frames, adorned with flowers and dot patterns, are also consistent with 18th-century lacquer objects from Iran.
The Mughal painting on the back cover depicts an idealized beauty standing amidst delicately flowering bushes. The fine portrait of a Mughal prince in a fur-collared robe and boots adorns the front cover.
1. (Debra Diamond, 28 April 2005, From acquisition justification report)
The gold inscription ascribes the painting to 'Abid, a painter at the courts of the emperors Jahangir [r.1605-1627] and Shah Jahan [r.1628-1658].
He is The God. Her manner of elegance [was such] that the weight of color broke the flower stem. On the first day of the month of Ramadan, 1037 [May 5, 1628].
He is The God. Drawn by the most humble of [all] born at the court, 'Abid [son of] Aqa Reza' [in the service of] Shah Jahan. It was written in the city of Agra. (translated by Robert Skelton)
From at least 1951
Mr. Owen, Aberystwyth, Wales, from at least 1951 [1]
To 2005
Francesca Galloway, London, to 2005
From 2005
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Francesca Galloway in 2005
[1] The object was in the collection of Mr. Owen of Aberystwyth, Wales as early as 1951. Francesca Galloway has provided copies of a letter (dated March 28, 1951) and an object report (dated March 20, 1951) in which an unknown art specialist (signature not legible) remarks to Mr. Owen that he was fortunate to have acquired "a museum piece and antique of this kind [in a sale of] odds and ends," (according to Curatorial Note 4, Debra Diamond, April 28, 2005, in the object record).
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Exhibition History:
Body Image (October 14, 2017 - ongoing)
Facing East: Portraits from Asia (July 1 to September 4, 2006)
Previous custodian or owner:
Mr. Owen
Francesca Galloway
portrait  Search this
flower  Search this
wine  Search this
woman  Search this
Reign of Shah Jahan (1628 - 1658)  Search this
Iran  Search this
India  Search this
South Asian and Himalayan Art  Search this
Credit Line:
Purchase — funds provided by the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries
Accession Number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
Related Online Resources:
Google Cultural Institute
See more items in:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Collection
Data Source:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery