Apart from portraits of people close to him, Trindade has a significant number of portraits of simple folk which he depicts with an extraordinary sense of dignity and realism. The largest and most striking of these paintings was executed in 1932, after the artist sighted the two sisters in Bombay. The artist was so taken by the two women that he asked them to pose. The sisters were probably Muslim refugees. The style of their dress and the pattern on the younger girl’s frock resembles those worn by women from neighbouring countries. Indeed, many Armenian Muslims left their homeland and settled in Iran and Afghanistan but also Bombay, after the country was taken by force by the Soviet Republic in the 1920’s.
Posed at the doorway of a working-class neighbourhood, the sisters’ hardship is symbolised by their bare feet. If in one hand this work creates a mood of adversity by the use of sombre colours, it also leaves an open door to hope portrayed in the sister’s facial expressions. The loving closeness of the women is tender and reassuring, a key to survival in an alien society.
References: Shihandi, Marcella, et al, António Xavier Trindade: An Indian Painter from Portuguese Goa (exhibition catalogue), Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, 1996; Tavares, Cristina Azevedo et al, António Xavier Trindade: Um Pintor de Goa (exhibition catalogue), Lisbon, Fundação Oriente, 2005; Gracias, Fátima, Faces of Colonial India: The Work of Goan Artist António Xavier Trindade (1870-1935), Panjim, Goa, Fundação Oriente, 2014.