The painting, rendered pursuing late nineteenth century Bazaar art style, especially its idiom as practised in Bengal, is a brilliant example of discovering a theme in portraits of the represented figures, again one of the main characteristics of this late nineteenth century art style finding its best accomplishment in the paintings of Raja Ravi Verma who was primarily responsible for giving to portraits also thematic dimensions. This painting primarily portrays two women in their fullness, their appearance, social status, customs, costume-styles, mutual relationship, and even theology, as also each one’s mind, its apprehensions and fears, and its anxiety and concern, something that in modern art a portrait was required to essentially accomplish.
In all probabilities the painting portrays a young married girl, reconciled to her husband, readying to go to him. Vermilion applied on her hair-parting decisively indicates her marital status. Reconciliation apart, apprehensions and doubts yet lurk in her mind, and hence some reluctance. A matured woman, the young damsel would dress herself up if it was her own choice. That initiative and enthusiasm is completely missing in her portrayal. She has facing her a mirror but her eyes seem to be looking elsewhere, perhaps within her, to a past event, or to a future fear, a sore memory or a painful tomorrow. A broken one, her seating posture suggests that she has submitted herself to her mother’s wish, though in turn the mother, too, is not much confident of how the things would shape or take a turn. She is holding in one hand the comb, and in the other, a braid of her hair, but her eyes are directed to neither of them.
The scene has been composed on a large terrace covering horizontally almost half of the canvas. The two women are seated on temporarily laid matting. A few subdued forms apart, a faint moon in the sky, a distant hill-range, a lake with a flight of steps and a pair of swans-like aquatic birds in it, some shadows-like looking trees with cypresses rising above others, and a marble railing identifying a part of the terrace from the rest, the background is broadly an expanse of greenish-grey void. Such background affords an appropriate setting to the portrayed figures for as necessitated the theme they have neither glowing faces reflecting inner lustre nor brilliant costume and jewels.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain
specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of
numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the
curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New
Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of
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