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Husain Quli and Akbar

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Basawan (maker)
    Mansur (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:112-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The composition of this painting was designed by the Mughal court artist Basawan and was painted by Mansur, whose mastery in depicting animals is already apparent. It is the left side of a double-page composition (with IS.2:113-1896) illustrating the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar). It depicts the Mughal general Husain Quli Khan Jahan presenting his prisoners to the emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) in 1572, after the victorious military campaign in Gujarat. The prisoners have been made to dress in animal skins to add to their humiliation and have chains around their necks.

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 almost certainly 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 their 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 side of a double page painting from the Akbarnama (right side is IS.2:113-1896). Depicts Husain Quli Khan presenting his prisoners brought over from his victory in Gujarat, where he defeated the mirza princes. The prisoners have been made to dress in animal skins and have chains around their necks.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Basawan (maker)
Mansur (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh: Basawan/amal: Mansur'
'composition Basawan/work [= painting] by Mansur'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink.

Dimensions

Height: 33 cm, Width: 19 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. 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. 1605-27) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58). The Victoria and Albert Museum purchased it in 1896 from 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 name the artists.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, Husain Qulip presents prisoners of war from Lahore, outline by Basawan, painting Mansur, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Prisoners; Princes

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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