Skip Navigation

Ladies on a Terrace

Asian Art

Court women were a favorite subject in Indian painting, although few images of upper-class women are actual portrait likenesses. The zenana (women's area of the palace) was the stuff of fantasy for the male artists and patrons of painting: those not privileged to enter the zenana speculated about the delights to be found inside, while the husbands—who were frequently away on military campaigns—waxed nostalgic about the happy hours they had spent there. Images of the zenana usually show the denizens whiling away their time in graceful languor, awaiting their husband's return. In this image, the entertainments overlook a Middle Eastern-style garden split into four quadrants by a fountain and water channels.

CULTURES Mughal Style; Indian
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor on paper
  • Place Made: India
  • DATES ca. 1700–1710
    DYNASTY Mughal
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 in. (34.9 x 26 cm) Image: 8 3/16 x 6 7/16 in. (20.8 x 16.4 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Obtained by exchange with Nasli M. Heeramaneck
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A bejeweled Hindu lady and three of her attendants are portrayed on a terrace before a formal garden. At the left of center the lady sits cross-legged on a white carpet with a pillow on her lap. Clad in a gold hat, gold flowered pajama and strings of pearls and jewels, and the ubiquitous red caste-mark on her forehead, she leans against two more pillows and holds a glass wine cup out to her attendant. At the right the attendant offers a gold wine cup to the lady with her right hand while holding a wine bottle in her left hand. At the lower right a female musician plays a stringed instrument, and at the left an attendant waves a peacock-feather fly whisk. The ornate floral arabesque on the balustrade echoes that found in the red, orange, blue and white carpet on which the women sit and stand. The garden consists of rhomboid flower beds intersected by paths and watercourses with an octagonal pool and fountain in the center. Cypresses, flowering trees and leafy deciduous trees alternate along the horizon. At the upper left a tank and a building are visible. Although single-figure and ragamala paintings of women are found in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mughal painting, the depiction of two or more ladies on a terrace did not become popular until the eighteenth century. Because aristocratic wives were confined to the harem, their portraits are necessarily idealized. Apparently, the depiction of the calm and timeless lives of women in the Mughal court appealed to some artists of this period more than the chronicling of an empire where rigid convention had displaced the vigorous feats and aesthetic excellence of the previous century.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Mughal Style. Ladies on a Terrace, ca. 1700–1710. Opaque watercolor on paper, Sheet: 13 3/4 x 10 1/4 in. (34.9 x 26 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Obtained by exchange with Nasli M. Heeramaneck, 36.231 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 36.231_IMLS_PS3.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 36.231_IMLS_PS3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
    This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement. You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.