Recently the Museum acquired a stunning reverse-painted portrait of a Mughal nobleman. This is a remarkable acquisition as extremely few 18th-century paintings on glass of this scale and quality have survived.
The technique of painting on glass originated in China. Because the distinctive wood frames of such paintings often have ink characters in Chinese on the reverse, these may have been painted and framed in China and sent on the trade routes between Guangzhou (Canton) and Gujarat.
However, the style of this painting clearly relates to centers of Mughal painting in the later 18th century, such as Avadh and Murshidabad. Various details of the painting suggest that the painter is copying a Murshidabad portrait of a nobleman seated on a terrace from around 1750-60, as seen in a watercolor in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection.
The silvered upper half of the painting reflects the Murshidabad practice of the 1750s of having gold or silver grounds for the sky. Despite the fact that with this acquisition the Museum can claim a rare Indian glass work of international renown, there are other significant Indian works in the collection, such as these two hookah bases.
The hookah is a water pipe in which tobacco smoke is sucked through scented water in order to cool it in addition to eliminating its harsh quality. They became popular in India from the second half of the 16th century.
Another group of objects is this set of flasks with the typical gilded and enameled decoration of Gujarat, dating to the 18th century. However, although the ornament is Indian, the bottles themselves may be European.
All of these stunning objects are on display in our Asian gallery and are certainly worth an up-close visit when you are in Corning.