Self-Portrait of a Painter at Work
Artist/maker unknown, Indian
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In this self-portrait, a painter depicts himself in a peaceful garden, at work on an image of a large flowering plant adhered to a board that he holds on his lap. On the ground beside him are his tools: oblong clamshells filled with paint, an ornamental box for his hollow-reed pens and squirrel-tail hair brushes, and knives used for a variety of tasks from trimming paper to sharpening pens. The paints used in Indian paintings were composed of pigments ground into a powder and mixed with a binder, usually gum arabic. Pigments came from organic sources, such as plants and insects, as well as from minerals and metals.