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Akbar and Abdu'r Rahim

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Anant (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:7-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration to the Persian-language history of the reign of Akbar is by one of the Mughal artists of the royal workshop, Anant. It depicts the emperor receiving the four-year old Abdu'r Rahim at court following the assassination of his father, Akbar's leading general and mentor, Bairam Khan, in 1561. The child is helped onto the dais by another man, who has been identified tentatively as Ataga Khan. The event took place in 1561.
The Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) was commissioned by the emperor as the official chronicle of the reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between c. 1592 and 1594 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major General Clarke, an official who had been the Commissioner in Oudh province between 1858 and 1862.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, depicting Akbar receiving Abdu'r Rahim, the four-year old son of Bairam Khan, at court. The child is helped onto the dais by another man, who has been identified tentatively as the Ataga Khan. In the foreground, a man leads a cheetah.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Anant (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'amal Anant'
'work [= painting] by Anant'
The contemporary librarian's attribution is written in Persian beneath the image, at bottom right of page, in red ink

Dimensions

Height: 31.7 cm, Width: 18.5 cm

Object history note

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596, and illustrated between about 1592 and 1595 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir. The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major General Clarke, an official who served as the Commissioner in Oudh province.

Historical significance: It is thought to be the first illustrated copy of the Akbarnama. It drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal painters of the time, many of whom receive special mention by Abu'l Fazl in the A'in-i-Akbari. Theinscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, Akbar receives Abd al-Rahim, outline and painting by Anant, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Susan Stronge, " Thrones of the Mughal Emperors of Hindustan", Jewellery Studies, vol. 10, London, 2004, p. 53, fig. 1.
Susan Stronge, "The Akbarnama and Mughal Court Culture", in Gian Carlo Calza, ed., Akbar. The Great Emperor of India, Fondazione Roma, 2012, fig. 9, p. 27.
Geeti Sen, Paintings from the Akbar Nama. A Visual Chronicle of Mughal India, Lustre Pres Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, 1984, pp. 60-61
p.12, pl. 2
STRONGE, Susan. Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560 – 1660 London : V&A Publications, 2002. 192p, ill. ISBN 1 85177 358 4.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint; Gold

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Throne; Cheetah

Categories

ELISE; Images Online; Paintings; Animals and Wildlife; Illustration; Royalty; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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