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The emperor 'Alamgir (Aurangzeb)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Mughal prince Aurangzeb took the title Alamgir (World Seizer) when he came to power in 1658, having usurped his seriously ill father Shah Jahan. The emperor is depicted in this painting which dates from ca. 1660 as a relatively young man, richly dressed and bejewelled, and with the halo that characterised imperial figures from the reign of his grandfather, Jahangir. Later in life, his religious asceticism made him reject such opulence. The anonymous artist has shown him standing, full length, in profile against a plain pale green background, continuing a tradition in Mughal portraiture that had begun in the late 16th century. Alamgir inherited an immensely wealthy empire, but spent the second half of his extremely long reign (he died in 1707) conducting wars against the Muslim sultanates of the Deccan, in the south of the subcontinent, which though ultimately successful were won at enormous cost and weakened the empire irrevocably.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, portrait of Aurangzeb ('Alamgir I, 1658-1707), wearing outdoor ceremonial robes of gold brocade and orange-red fabric and royal jewellery, and armed with a long straight-bladed sword and a katar (punch dagger).

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)


ca. 1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper


Height: 19.8 cm, Width: 11.3 cm painting only

Object history note

The painting was bought with a group of other Mughal paintings from Messrs Luzac & Co, 46 Great Russell Street, London in 1913 for £9.

Descriptive line

Painting, the emperor 'Alamgir with a halo, standing facing left, holding a long straight-bladed sword. Opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1700

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.99, no.78.
T.Koezuka,ed; RC,TK,SS. Catalogue; intro DS&TK; The Arts of The Indian Courts. Osaka.1993. No.5
p. 31, cat. no. 5
Swallow, D., Stronge, S., Crill, R., Koezuka, T., editor and translator, "The Art of the Indian Courts. Miniature Painting and Decorative Arts", Victoria & Albert Museum and NHK Kinki Media Plan, 1993.


Opaque watercolour; Gold; Paper; Paint



Subjects depicted

Halo; Sword; Emperor; Jewellery; Dagger


ELISE; Images Online; Paintings; Royalty; Portraits; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project


South & South East Asia Collection

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