Mughal painting Portrait of Nur Jahan c. 1635 Place made: north India, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, miniatures, opaque watercolour, gold Support: paper
Dimensions: image 7.5 h x 5.5 w cm border 40.0 h x 26.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1369
Subject: Portrait: female
  • Acquired in India by a collector named Fadnis (alternatively spelled Phadanavis or Furnuwees), mid-1800s or before
  • by descent to his great-grandson B.M. Fadnis, Pune, Maharashtra, India
  • who sold it to Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, 1927
  • exported from India by Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, 1930
  • held in the collection of Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson and Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson, Pasha, both of Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk, England, 1927-1953
  • who gave it to the Commonwealth of Australia, 1953
  • held by National Library of Australia, Canberra, after transfer from London, 1954-1991
  • transferred to the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 1991.
  • The collecting history of this painting is partial. Its whereabouts are unknown between its creation and entering the Fadnis Collection in the mid-1800s or before. The earliest confirmed transaction is its purchase by the donor in India in 1927. The National Gallery of Australia welcomes further information regarding its history of ownership prior to 1927.
  • This portrait is believed to represent an idealised image of Begum Nur Jahan (1577–1645), the 20th and favourite wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1569–1627, ruled 1605–27). The exquisite Iranian (Persian) costume and jewellery of the subject suggest nobility. In the hennaed fingertips of one hand she holds a tiny cup. In her other hand is a wine flask. Inspired by European art, oval portraits became popular in Mughal India during Jahangir’s reign.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
    From: Asian gallery extended display label