Two Women with Fireworks (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

ca. 1770–1800
Works On Paper
opaque watercolor on paper
India,Rajasthan,probably Bikaner,
Unframed: 8 1/4 × 3 7/16 in. (20.96 × 8.73 cm)
Framed: 10 1/2 × 7 5/16 in. (26.67 × 18.57 cm)
Not on view
Two court beauties stand starkly isolated against an inky night sky streaked at the top with grey and white clouds. The space they inhabit is otherwise suggested only by a small yellow-green band across the picture’s bottom scored with fine lines to represent grass, and a white parallelogram filled with a pool of silvery water. The ladies hold fireworks that send two showers of sparks into the pool, cascading downward much like their elegant, colorful costumes. Artists working in western Rajasthan’s remote desert kingdom of Bikaner were long influenced by Mughal painting, and this picture echoes compositions from the Delhi and Awadh (Oudh) courts showing stylish women and elegant fetes. Fireworks were frequently associated with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, and this rather tender picture may have been a gift upon the occasion of this annual celebration.
Gift of Mr. John D. Archbold
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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