, Portrait of a Mughal warrior Enlarge 1 /1
Deccan painting, possibly Machilipatnam style Portrait of a Mughal warrior [A Mughal officer standing with hands in the puja position] c. 1780 Place made: Andhra Pradesh, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, opaque watercolour, gold leaf Support: paper
Primary Insc: Inscribed upper centre above image, in pencil, in Telugu
Tertiary Insc: Inscribed lower right edge below image, in black ink "G-AP258".
Dimensions: border 22.6 h x 15.4 w cm image 16.7 h x 11.2 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1417
Subject: Portrait: male
  • Acquired by Henry Russell, 2nd Baronet, while stationed in Hyderabad, Telangana, India, between 1800 and 1820
  • probably exported from India by Henry Russell, 1820
  • probably held in the collection of Sir Henry Russell, 2nd Baronet, of Swallowfield Park, Reading, Berkshire, England, 1820-1852
  • after the death of Sir Henry Russell in 1852 the collection may have passed by descent through various successive generations of the Russell family, but it was dispersed by sale at some point between 1852 and 1952
  • with Walker Galleries, London, England, 1952 or before
  • who sold it to Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson, 1952
  • held in the collection of Colonel Thomas Gayer Gayer-Anderson and the late Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson, Pasha, both of Little Hall, Lavenham, Suffolk, England, 1952-1953
  • 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 unconfirmed between its creation and the earliest confirmed transaction, its purchase in Hyderabad between 1800 and 1820. A further break in the known provenance exists between the death of Sir Henry Russell in 1852 and the appearance of the painting at Walker’s Galleries, London in 1952. The National Gallery of Australia welcomes further information regarding its history of ownership in either of these periods.

The subject of this portrait is Hindu, indicated by his hands being in the puja or prayer position. His collection of weaponry—sword, shield and punching dagger [katar]—identifies him as a member of a Rajput clan. The Rajputs were from the kshatriyawarrior caste and charged with protecting the Brahmins, the priestly caste of Hindus. Under the Mughal emperors, it was not uncommon for Rajputs, such as this warrior, to rise high in the ranks of the imperial army.

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