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A Balsam Plant

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Deccan Region, India, Asia

c. 1660-1680

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Image: 8 5/8 × 4 13/16 inches (21.9 × 12.2 cm) Sheet: 11 7/8 × 7 3/16 inches (30.2 × 18.3 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2004

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Paintings from the Deccan region are celebrated for their sometimes weird, but always wonderful, representations of oversized, flowering plants. By placing this balsam plant against a solid background, enlarging its scale, and isolating it in the center of the painting, the artist has created a floral portrait. Interest in floral portraiture likely derived from engraved images imported from Europe. But the Deccani artist does not render the plant precisely as it appears in nature. Instead he stiffens the stem, makes the blooms symmetrical, and aligns the clouds and tiny flowers to create an exquisite composition of perfect regularity.