, Baz Bahadur and his mistress Rupmati hunting Enlarge 1 /1
Deccan painting, possibly Machilipatnam style Baz Bahadur and his mistress Rupmati hunting c. 1780 Place made: Andhra Pradesh, India
Materials & Technique: paintings, miniatures, opaque watercolour, gold leaf, tin leaf Support: paper
Primary Insc: Inscribed above image, upper centre, in pencil, in Telugu.
Tertiary Insc: Inscribed below image lower right edge, in black ink 'G-A.P.264 '.
Dimensions: border 20.6 h x 27.2 w cm image 15.6 h x 21.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: The Gayer-Anderson Gift 1954
Accession No: NGA 91.1420
Subject: Royalty Portrait: couple Animals: hunting
  • 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.

Baz Bahadur (ruled 1555–1562) was the last sultan of the Islamic Malwa sultanate in central India. He is said to have heard Rupmati, the daughter of a Hindu chief, singing in the forest while he was hunting. Captivated by Rupmati’s voice and beauty, Baz Bahadur declared his love. She was won over only when her suitor commissioned an opulent pavilion overlooking the Narmada river.

This scene depicts the couple’s happy life together in the city of Mandu, where Rupmati’s pavilion still stands. Their idyll ended in 1561 when the Mughal general Adham Khan, under Akbar, attacked and captured Mandu. Rupmati took her own life by swallowing powdered diamonds when faced with the defeat of Baz Bahadur and the prospect of marriage to Adham Khan.

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