Portrait of Maharaja Balbir Sen of Mandi

Balbir Sen of Mandi sits with his legs tucked under him against a purplish bolster on an oval orange carpet with a green border. He wears a white garment with green borders and some jewelry: a ring, bracelets, an armlet, necklaces, earrings and wears a green turban with a turban jewel across the front, surmounted by a black feathered aigrette. A sword signifying his rank lies across his body. He sits in strict profile with a heavy black beard and mustache. The paper is plain and uncolored except around the figure, which is painted against a white wash taking the shape of the seated man and his setting. Inscriptions in devanagari script are above the painting.
Artist Unknown India, Mandi, Himechal Predesh
c. 1825
Balbir Sen (ca. 1817–1851; r. 1839–1851) was born into a family that had ruled the small state of Mandi, in the foothills of the Himalaya, since the early sixteenth century. In this portrait he is shown seated on an orange rug, with a purple bolster pillow at his back. He is dressed in simple white robes, with only a few appurtenances of rank: a sword, a few pieces of modest jewelry, and a perky feather in his turban. Without resorting to fussy detail, the artist has convincingly portrayed a distinct personality. Although the almost geometric shapes create a flat pattern, there is nonetheless a sense of mass to the figure.
Gift of Mr. George P. Bickford for the James Marshall Plumer Memorial Collection
Tuesday, June 28, 2022