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Baqi Muhammed Khan

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    La'l (maker)
    Sanwala (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:9-1896

  • Gallery location:

    South Asia, Room 41, case K

This is part of a double-page illustration from the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar). It depicts the marriage festivities of the son of Maham Anaga, the foster-mother of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605). Maham Anaga held a powerful position at court, as shown by her dominant position in the painting, sitting next to Akbar. An accompanying painting, Museum no. IS.2:8-1896, illustrates dancers and musicians performing in the celebrations. The Mughal court artist La’l was responsible for the design of the two-page composition, with Sanwala painting the details of this half.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written in Persian by his court historian and biographer, Abu’l Fazl, between 1590 and 1596, and the V&A’s partial copy of the manuscript is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1595. This is thought to be the earliest illustrated version of the text, and drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal artists of the time. Many of these are listed by Abu’l Fazl in the third volume of the text, the A’in-i Akbari, and some of these names appear in the V&A illustrations, written in red ink beneath the pictures, showing that this was a royal copy made for Akbar himself. After his death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son Jahangir, from whom it was inherited by Shah Jahan.

The V&A purchased the manuscript in 1896 from Frances Clarke, the widow of Major General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, festivities at the marriage of Baqi Muhammad Khan, the eldest son of Maham Anaga, at the court of Akbar in 1561. The young Akbar is seated in the royal pavilion next to Maham Anaga, his foster mother.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

La'l (maker)
Sanwala (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'tarh La'l/amal Sanwala'
'Composition [by]La'l/Work of [ painted by] Sanwala.'
Contemporary librarian's attributions in Persian, in red ink in the margin below the painting.

Dimensions

Height: 33 cm, Width: 20 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 is thought to have been illustrated between c. 1590 and 1595 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.

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. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, scene from marriage entertainment of Baqi Muhammad Khan, outline by La'l, painting by Sanwala, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Geeti Sen, Paintings from the Akbar Nama, Lustre Press, Delhi, 1984, p. 64

Labels and date

FESTIVITIES AT COURT
Illustration to the Akbarnama
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Composition by La’l, painting by Banwali the Younger (right) and Sanwala (left)
Mughal, c. 1590-95
IS.2:8-1896 (right), IS.2:9-1896 (left)
In 1589, Akbar commissioned the great scholar Abu’l Fazl to write the Akbarnama, or Book of Akbar, as the official history of his reign. The incomplete manuscript to which these folios belong was the presentation copy for the emperor. This scene shows the marriage festivities of the son of Akbar’s wet-nurse, Maham Anaga, in 1561. Her powerful position at court is emphasised by the fact that she is permitted to sit in the emperor’s presence. []

Production Note

Composition by La'l, colours and details painted by Sanwala.
Attribution place is likely to be Delhi, Agra or Fatehpur Sikri.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint; Gold

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Marriage; Throne; Ruler

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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