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Oil painting by Willem Schellinks (1627-1678) - Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Horses and Elephants
  • Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Horses and Elephants
    Schellinks, Willem, born 1627 - died 1678
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Parade of the Sons of Shah Jahan on Composite Horses and Elephants

  • Object:

    Oil painting by Willem Schellinks (1627-1678)

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (painted)

  • Date:

    late 17th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Schellinks, Willem, born 1627 - died 1678 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

In this enigmatic painting by the Dutch artist Willem Schellinks (1627-1678), nothing is as it seems at first sight. The scene appears to depict a tableau on a stage framed by heavy curtains. A potentate with female companions and servants watches the procession of men in Mughal dress pass by in front of him, as do figures on high balconies at right and left. However, the painting actually depicts a curtain on which the entire scene is painted: its border of gold fringing is visible in the foreground.

The subject is equally mysterious. Although previously identified as the sons of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in procession, this is not certain. That they are Mughal princes or rulers is clear from their costume and emblems of royalty, but their precise identification remains to be confirmed. One is carried on a palanquin composed of female figures; the other three ride animals that are also composed of entwined human figures, though the legs of the composite camel at right are composites of animals.

Above the potentate whose royalty is indicated by the shade held by a servant behind him, two figures hover in clouds: they may be identified as Shah Jahan’s father, Jahangir, on the left, and his grandfather Akbar on the right. It is possible that the figure in white holding a hawk is intended to be Shah Jahan. No plausible identification has been made for the orange-robed figure holding a large shield and carried on a camel inside a howdah.

Physical description

Oil on canvas depicting an imaginary scene of Shah Jahan and his four sons in a parade. Above, his father Jahangir and grandfather Akbar sit on clouds, gilt wooden frame.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (painted)


late 17th century (painted)


Schellinks, Willem, born 1627 - died 1678 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 78 cm canvas, Width: 83.8 cm canvas max, Height: 104.6 cm frame, Width: 110.7 cm frame, Depth: 12.1 cm maximum depth of frame and projecting backboard

Object history note

Historical significance: Willem Schellinks 1627-1678
Professor Gary Schwartz has pointed out that the V&A painting, and a related painting in the Musee Guimet in Paris also by Schellinks, contain references to Mughal drawings that Rembrandt also copied. He therefore concludes that Schillinks and Rembrandt looked at the drawings together.

Historical context note

Mr Woodward sold the picture to the museum in 1892 for £20.

Descriptive line

Imaginary scene said to depict a parade of the sons of Shah Jahan on composite horses and elephants, with Jahangir and Akbar on clouds above them, by Willem Schellinks, oil on canvas, late 17 century, Netherlands.

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

Jeannine Auboyer, "Un maitre hollandais du XVIIe siecle s'inspirant des miniatures mogholes", Arts asiatiques II/4, 1955, pp. 251-273.

De wereld binnen handbereik. Nederlandse kunst- en rariteitenverzamelingen, 1585-1735, Catalogus, Amsterdams Historisch Museum, 1992, cat. 362 pp.169-170
Robert J. Del Bonta, "Reinventing Nature: Mughal Composite Animal Painting, Marg Publications, vol. 50, no. 3 (March 1999, pp. 69-82, plate 13 and especially fn. 14.
p. 33, pl. 18
Rohatgi P. and Parlett G., assisted by Imray S. and Godrej P. Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists: Paintings and Drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum, 17th to the early 20th century. Published by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, in association with V&A, London, 2008. ISBN 81-901020-9-5.
Patel, Divia; Rohatgi, Pauline and Godrej, Pheroza, "Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists: an exhibition of paintings and drawings from the 17th to the early 20th century organised by the V&A and CSMVS". Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai and Victoria and Albert Museum, 2008, ISBN:81-901020-8-7
Distant worlds made tangible: art and curiosities: Dutch collections, 1585-1735: the objects in the exhibition, Amsterdam, Historisch Museum, 1992

Labels and date

Oil Painting. Represents a royal "tamasha" at the Court of Delhi. In the background is the Emperor with his Court. Groups of women, in the foreground, are twined into the shapes of a camel, an elephant, a horse, and a palanquin. Above is shown the apotheosis of a former Emperor. Probably English. End of 18th century. [1892]


Canvas; Oil colour



Subjects depicted

Hawks; Elephants; Clouds; Dancers; Parasols; Shields


Images Online; Paintings; Black History


South & South East Asia Collection

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