Lady About to Smoke a Hookah

Painting from the Punjab Hills in the second half of the eighteenth century was deeply indebted to earlier Mughal painting styles of that century. Pahari artists became skilled in rendering the illusionistic space, idealized proportions of figures and facial types, and more naturalistic depiction of nature that characterized the late Mughal style. Although the Pahari (hill states) style was more naturalistic than that of contemporaneous Rajasthani painting, each tradition used a stock repertoire of lines to create images. In this example, each feature of the young heroine’s anatomy, for example, is a simple curve, from the gentle slope of her inner forearm to the rounds of her breasts or the gentle backward s of her calf. This underdrawing shows something of the artist’s thought process as he composed the picture. He has shifted the pavilion to the right,lowered the bottom edge of the picture, and changed the position of his heroine’s legs, upper arms, and torso. Had the artist finished the painting, the record of these changes as well as the numerous finely wrought details would have been effaced by a layer of color and by a finely controlled finished drawing.

Ink on paper


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Metropolitan Museum of Art

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