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Ali Quli Khan

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kanha (artist)
    Banwali Khord (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:13-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the victory of the Mughal army, led by Khan Zaman, over the Afghans in 1561 on the banks of the River Gomti (also known as the Gumti or Gomati) in north India. This is part of a double-page composition designed by the Mughal court artist Kanha, Museum no. IS.2:12-1896 being the other half. Banwali Khord painted the details of this page.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) 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, left half of a double picture, depicting the victory of Ali Quli Khan over the Afghans on the banks of the river Gomti in 1561. The illustration overleaf (IS.2:12-1896) continues the story.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Kanha (artist)
Banwali Khord (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh Kanha/Amal Banwali Khord'
'Composition by Kanha/Work [= painting] by Banwali Khord'
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 Banwali the Younger, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Production Note

Composition by Kanha, colours and details painted by Banwali the Younger.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint; Gold

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

River; Battle; Boat

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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