Abdur Rahman Chughtai began his training at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore in 1911. There, he was taught by Samarendranath Gupta, who was a pupil of Abanindranath Tagore. The influence of Tagore and the Bengal School is visible in his early works with their emphasis on line and the familiar wash technique. There was also a crossover in terms of subject matter rendered. A similar image of Zebunissa, painted by Abanindranath Tagore circa 1920-25 is illustrated in Lalit Kala Contemporary 17, April 1974, p. 9.
Zebunissa was the daughter of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and was widely acknowledged as an accomplished poetess. In 1913 however, Jessie Westbrook suggested in the introduction to her book Diwan of Zebunissa, that the princess had been involved in a scandalous love affair with Aqil Khan, the governor of Lahore. Chughtai was indignant as he thought this was an unjustified attack upon Zebunissa's character and so became a champion for the reclamation of the princess' untarnished reputation. He depicted her in many of his paintings, either reciting poetry or reading the Quran to her father. In all cases she is presented as the ideal daughter, a loving, chaste and devout woman.