Lady holding a mirror
by A. H. Muller (1878-1960)
Oil colour on paper
22 x 16.5 in. (56 x 42 cm.)
Muller was born in Cochin – Kerala of German parentage – German Father and Indian Mother. He was trained at the Madras School of Art and post graduation he worked at his brother’s studio. However, possibly due to lack of work, he had to move to Mumbai by 1910. He won the prestigious Bombay Art Society Award in 1911. This helped him acquire a special niche in the Indian art scene of those times.
His paintings included landscapes, portraits and scenes from the life of the Maharajas (Kings), historical subjects and incidents from the Indian Hindu epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Most of his works also carried hints of the academic style popularized by Ravi Varma and bore elements of the Greco-roman classical understanding of the body structure and posture. In this work we can see the background bearing this semblance and having a kind of mesmerizing effect, leading one to imagine a fantasy world rather than a realistic one.
In 1922, Muller took up employment (largely out of poverty) with the Maharajah of Bikaner, to record the ruler’s hunting expeditions. He also travelled a lot through western India and enjoyed patronage of the royal families of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.