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Image of The Virgin and Child

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Bookmark: https://collection.sdmart.org/objects-1/info/5047

The Virgin and Child

Basawan (AKA Basavan; Basavana), Indian, (active 1565–1598)

Creation date: 1590 (album page, ca. 1610)
Creation place: India

Other Information

Type: Watercolor Painting
Medium and Support: Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Credit Line: Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
Accession Number: 1990.293
State/Province: Uttar Pradesh
Dimensions: 8 17/32 in. x 5 13/32 in. (21.7 cm x 13.7 cm)

Provenance

Kevorkian Foundation, London, England ( - December 1, 1969)

Sotheby's, London, England (December 1, 1969 - December 1, 1969)

Stamford, London, England (December 1, 1969 - December 1, 1969)

Edwin Binney 3rd, San Diego, California (December 1, 1969 - August 27, 1990)

San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California (August 27, 1990 - )

Label Copy

Myths, Monsters and Maharajas (Ellen Smart, 1992)

When Jesuit missionaries and other European travellers arrived at Agra with illustrated manuscripts, oil paintings, and engravings, the new art forms fascinated the court and the artists. Figures were taken from the imported works and incorporated into Mughal paintings. Engravings were copied and turned into paintings. Pictures of the quality of this one were mounted in albums alternating with calligraphy, the whole book visually unified by similar borders throughout.
The exquisite colors, volume and finish seen in this painting are those things for which Basawan was famous at the end of the 16th century, and, indeed, for which his work is famous today. An example of his early painting is the Tutinama ilustration of the storm at sea.

The Indian painters incorporated a great deal from the exotic pictures into their own work. European paintings, with their visual tricks for depicting spatial recession, volume, and folds in draperies, intrigued the patrons and artists at the Mughal court but, like many novelties, were not a lasting fad. The tricks of Western art were copied, understood, assimilated, and soon rejected. Perhaps the Westerner is particularly drawn to European themes in Mughal art because they are familiar. Like Hinduism, Indian art absorbs foreign intrusions and returns to tradition, enriched by the adoptions and adaptations but nevertheless essentially Indian.

The Great Mughals: Power and Patronage (2002-3)
Jahangir (World-Seizer), 1569-1627

THE VIRGIN AND CHILD
(JAHANGIR ALBUM)
Attributed to Basawan
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 1590;
album page, 1610
Edwin Binney 3rd Collection
1990:293

MANUSCRIPT
This painting was done for Akbar and collected by Jahangir in a famous album—the Muraqqa-e-Gulshan (The Gulshan Album), in the Imperial Library, Gulshan Palace, in Teheran, also known as the Jahangir Album. The selection of pictures and surrounding margins, considered to represent some of the finest work of any Mughal atelier, serve as guide to Jahangir’s taste. Leaves for the album were set in margins painted with figural decoration for calligraphy and abstract designs for paintings. Here the patterned embellishment is filled with delicately painted birds and animals, subjects much beloved by Jahangir.

SUBJECT
The Virgin, resting on a gilded carpet, holds the Christ Child to her breast. Behind them, a Mughal-style verandah is screened by doubled curtains of red and green, tied back to reveal a softly described distant landscape. On an outdoor extension of the verandah, a goat rests calmly, recalling perhaps the unicorn iconography associated with the Virgin. Behind the extension are a reservoir or well and a planted garden.

STYLE
European subject matter and technique have been modified to Mughal taste. Voluminous and dramatically shaded robes and curtains as well as receding diagonals in the architecture are taken from European art. The Mughal artist, however, saw no need to compromise the beauty of the flat flower-filled carpet and shows it as though seen from directly above, which gives the Virgin an appearance of floating above it, perhaps something the artist thought suitable to her station. An expression of erotic reverie, neither wholly maternal nor virginal, also plays about her lips and downcast eyes. European iconography calls for exposure of only one breast, not the two shown here. The picture has been attributed to Basawan (See Shipwreck earlier in this exhibition) because of the dramatic handling of the drapery and the mysterious ambiguity of the Virgin’s expression. The optical realism produced by European artistic devices suited both Akbar’s and Jahangir’s interest in description.

October 2005
Domains of Wonder
Christian subjects were also a source of fascination for emperor Akbar, and the artists in his atelier rendered them in unusual and visually engaging ways that reveal their peculiar interpretation of Christianity. More a mother goddess than a Madonna, the central figure reclines while nursing the child, accompanied by symbols of fertility, including the goat, melon, water pitcher, and the well. The poem written in Persian in the cartouches seems to extol her as the greater divinity:
A beauteous moon has been born of the sun
And feeds upon the milk of its breast.
A dainty bud floating upon the surface of the spring
Of beauty with which the very face of heaven is washed.

Last Updated: 9/5/2017

Exhibition

This object was included in the following exhibitions:

A Flower from Every Meadow: Indian Paintings from American Collections Asia Society Galleries , 3/21/1973 - 11/11/1973

The Mughal and Deccani Schools: Indian Miniature Painting from the Collection of Edwin Binney, 3rd The Portland Art Association , 12/2/1973 - 3/7/1976

The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India, 1600-1660 Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute , 9/25/1978 - 6/10/1979

Akbar's India: Art from the Mughal City of Victory The Asia Society Galleries , 10/10/1985 - 6/15/1986

Myths, Monsters, Maharajas: Introducing the Binney Collection San Diego Museum of Art , 11/23/1991 - 1/26/1992

The Jesuits and the Grand Mogul: Renaissance Art at the Imperial Court of Indian (1150-1630) , 9/27/1998 - 4/4/1999

The Great Mughals: Power and Patronage , 3/13/2003 - 9/1/2003

Domains of Wonder: Selected Masterworks of Indian Painting San Diego Museum of Art , 10/22/2005 - 1/27/2008

Master Painters of India, 1100-1900 , 9/26/2011 - 1/8/2012

Virgin Mary The San Diego Museum of Art , 12/3/2016 - 3/26/2017

Bibliography

This object has the following bibliographic references:

Gauvin Alexander Bailey. Occasional Papers: Smithsonian Institution. Washington, DC, 1998
Page Number: 20, 25, Figure Number: 14

Professor Takashi Koezuka and Akira Miyazi. New History of World Art: Shogakukan, Inc.. Tokyo, Japan, 1999
Page Number: 286, 426, Figure Number: 207

Dr. Edwin Binney, 3rd. The Mughal and Deccani Schools Portland Art Museum. Portland, Oregon, 1973
Page Number: 67, 76, Figure Number: 51

Dr. Milo Cleveland Beach and Mr. Stuart Cary Welch. The Grand Mogul: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1978
Page Number: 51, 52, Figure Number: 8

Mr. Stuart Cary Welch. The Grand Mogul: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1978
Page Number: 179

Mr. Stuart Cary Welch. A Flower from Every Meadow: Asia House Gallery. New York, New York, 1973
Page Number: 13

Mr. Stuart Cary Welch and Mark Zebrowski. A Flower from Every Meadow: Asia House Gallery. New York, New York, 1973
Page Number: 99, Figure Number: 58

Amina Okada. Indian Miniatures of the Mughal Court Harry N. Abrams, Inc.. New York, New York, 1992
Page Number: 87, 88, Figure Number: 84

Philippa Vaughan. Islam: Könemann Verlagsgellschaft mbH. Köln, Germany, 2000
Page Number: 485, Figure Number: 485

Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry. Akbar's India: The Asia Society Galleries. New York, New York, 1985
Page Number: 101, 102, Figure Number: 66

Michael Brand and Glenn D. Lowry. Akbar's India: The Asia Society Galleries. New York, New York, 1985
Page Number: 153 no. 66

Catalogue of Highly Important Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, Sotheby & Co.. London, England, December 1, 1969
Page Number: 57, Lot no. 121, Figure Number: 121

Dr. Caron Smith. San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2003
Page Number: 76, Figure Number: 76

Som Prakash Verma. Mughal Painters and Their Work: Oxford University Press. New Delhi, India, 1994
Page Number: 93 no. 120

Brijinder Nath Goswamy and Dr. Caron Smith. Domains of Wonder: San Diego Museum of Art. San Diego, California, 2005
Page Number: 110, 130, 131, Figure Number: 49

Ms. Laurie Schneider Adams. Exploring the Humanities: Pearson Education Ltd. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2006
Page Number: 454, Figure Number: 16.36

Brijinder Nath Goswamy. The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters with 101 Great Works 1100 - 1900 Allen Lane by Penguin Books . India, 2014
Page Number: 169-171, Figure Number: 168

Dr. Milo Cleveland Beach and Brijinder Nath Goswamy. Masters of Indian Painting: 1100-1650 Artibus Asiae Publishers. Zurich, 2011
Page Number: 137, Figure Number: fig. 6, p.143

John Guy and Britschgi, Jorrit. Wonder of the Age The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2011
Page Number: 61, Figure Number: 19

Aditya Narayan Dhairyasheel Haksar. Suleiman Charitra Penguin Books. India, 2015
Figure Number: cover illustration

Natif, Mika. Renaissance painting and expressions of male intimacy in a seventeenth-century illustration from Mughal India University of Toronto. Toronto, 2015

Marks

Inscription, On front: A beauteous moon has been born of the sun And feeds upon the milk of its breast. A dainty bud floating upon the surface of the spring Of beauty with which the very face of heaven is washed.

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