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Akbar

Painting
ca. 1590-95 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This illustration from the Akbarnama shows Akbar on pilgrimage visiting the tomb of Mu'in ad-Din Chishti at Ajmer in 1562. It is the work of Basawan and Ikhlas, who were responsible for the composition and colouring respectively, while Nanha painted the faces of the most important figures, including, presumably, that of the emperor, seen praying at the entrance to the tomb. The lower part of the picture depicts the distribution of money and food to the poor.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Mughal 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Brief Description
Painting, Akbarnama, Akbar visits tomb of Khwajah Mu'in ad-Din Chishti, outline by Basawan, painting Ikhlas, portraits Nanha, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95
Physical Description
Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Akbar stands in veneration before the shrine of Mu'in ad-Din Chishti at Ajmer in 1562. Outside the walls enclosing the shrine, in the lower half of the composition, holy men, sellers of flowers and food, and retainers mill around.
Dimensions
  • Painting height: 32.8cm
  • Painting width: 20.1cm
Content description
Akbar stands in veneration before the shrine of Mu'in ad-Din Chishti at Ajmer in 1562. Outside the walls enclosing the shrine, in the lower half of the composition, holy men, sellers of flowers and food, and retainers mill around.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
(These are contemporary attributions, written in Persian in red ink at the bottom of the page.)
Object history
The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign in 1589. 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 John Clarke, who had bought it while serving as Commissioner of Oudh, India, 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 third book of the Akbarnama. The inscriptions written in Persian in red ink on the bottom of the paintings refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.
Production
Composition by Basawan, colours and details painted by Ikhlas, portraits by Nanha.

Attribution place is likely to be Delhi, Agra or Fatehpur Sikri.
Subjects depicted
Place Depicted
Association
Literary ReferenceAkbarnama
Summary
This illustration from the Akbarnama shows Akbar on pilgrimage visiting the tomb of Mu'in ad-Din Chishti at Ajmer in 1562. It is the work of Basawan and Ikhlas, who were responsible for the composition and colouring respectively, while Nanha painted the faces of the most important figures, including, presumably, that of the emperor, seen praying at the entrance to the tomb. The lower part of the picture depicts the distribution of money and food to the poor.



The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Mughal 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.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560-1660, Susan Stronge, p 9. pl. 1. Event of painting wrongly dated as 1570 whereas this was the illustration of an event that took place in 1562.
  • H. Beveridge (trs), The Akbar Nama of Abu-l-Fazl, Ess Ess Publications, Delhi, 1977, vol. II, p. 243.
  • Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010p.112, pl. 79
Other Number
104 - Inscription/original number
Collection
Accession Number
IS.2:23-1896

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record createdOctober 21, 1998
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