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Ali Quli Khan

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kanha (maker)
    Khiman Sangtarash (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:12-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting and IS.2:13-1896 together form a complete composition across two pages. They illustrate an episode described in the Akbarnama, the history of the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605). The composition was designed by the court artist Kanha, with a second artist, Khiman Sangtarash, being responsible for the painting. The scene depicts the victory of Khan Zaman (Ali Quli Khan) over the Afghans on the banks of the river Jumna in 1561.

The Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) was commissioned by the emperor 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 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, this manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-27) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58). 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 of Oudh province between 1858 and 1862. It is thought to be the earliest illustrated copy of the Akbarnama and 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 third volume of the Akbarnama, the A'in-i-Akbari. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings name the artists.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, left half of a double page composition, the right half being IS.2:13-1896. Depicts the victory of Ali Quli Khan over the Afghans on the banks of the river Gomti. The image is overlaid by a caption of text (1 line) in the top left corner.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Kanha (maker)
Khiman Sangtarash (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh Kanha /Amal Khiman Sangtarash'
'Composition by Kanha/Work [=painting] by Khiman Sangtarash'
Contemporary librarian's attributions in Persian, in red ink in the margin below the painting

Dimensions

Height: 33 cm, Width: 20 cm average

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 about 1592 and 1594 by at least 49 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 John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh 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 name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, victory of Khan Zaman (Ali Quli Khan), outline by Kanha, painting by Kahmin the Sculptor, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Production Note

Composition by Kanha; painted by Khiman Sangtarash.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint; Gold

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Battle; Boat; River

Categories

ELISE; Images Online; Paintings; Military; Illustration; Royalty; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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