In the fifteenth or sixteenth century, a new genre of painting developed that attempted to capture in imagery the moods of famous passages of classical music. The music, known as ragas or raginis, inspired artists to create little scenarios—happy or sad, fierce or quiet, taking place in the daytime or nighttime, the summer or winter—that were illustrated over and over again.
This painting depicts an unusually optimistic ragini, Bilavala, with a woman grooming herself in preparation for a romantic tryst. A servant holds up a mirror while the heroine adjusts a hair ornament, and another servant entertains them with music. They are situated within a palace courtyard of the type found throughout northern India in the eighteenth century. The pair of cushions in the cupola on the roof might indicate that this will be the setting for the upcoming tryst. The painting is from either Bundi or Kota, neighboring principalities where innumerable music-themed paintings were produced.
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
sheet: 12 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (32.7 x 20.0 cm)
image: 9 x 5 5/8 in. (22.9 x 14.3 cm) (show scale)
Verso, at top, in black ink, in Devanagari script: Belaval Ragini [of] Hindol raga.
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Gift of Emily Manheim Goldman
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Indian. Bilavala Ragini, ca. 1770-1790. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, sheet: 12 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (32.7 x 20.0 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Emily Manheim Goldman, 1991.180.8 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.180.8_IMLS_PS4.jpg)
overall, 1991.180.8_IMLS_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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