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Akbar

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kesav Kalan (maker)
    Jagjivan (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:111-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting by Kesav Kalan and Jagjivan is an illustration to the Akbarnama, and is the left side of a double page composition (the right half is IS.2:110-1896). It depicts the rejoicings at Akbar's return to Fatehpur Sikri following his victory in the Gujarat.
The Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) was commissioned by the emperor 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 Museum purchased it in 1896 from the widow of Major General John Clarke. He had been Commissioner of Oudh, India, between 1858 and 1862. It is thought to be the earliest 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 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

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, left hand side of double page, forming a pair with IS.2:110-1896. Depicts the rejoicings at Akbar's return to Fatehpur Sikri following his victory in the Gujarat. A pair of elephants can be seen in the foreground of the image. Towards the back of the picture, two elephants form a triumphal archway over a door. The image is overlaid by a band of text extending from the right hand margin.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Kesav Kalan (maker)
Jagjivan (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh Kesav Kalan/amal Jagjivan'
'composition by Kesav the Elder/work [= painting] by Jag Jivan'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink.

Dimensions

Height: 31.9 cm average, Width: 18.6 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 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, Akbar's victorious return to Fatehpur Sikri, outline by Kesav the Elder, painting Jagjivan, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Labels and date

REJOICINGS AT AKBAR’S RETURN TO FATHPUR
Illustration to the Akbarnama
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Mughal, composition by Keshav Kalan, painted by Jagjivan
c. 1590-95
IS.2:111-1896

In the early 1570s, Akbar led the Mughal army against the independent sultanate of Gujarat in Western India. After conquering the kingdom, Akbar returned to his newly founded capital of Sikri and renamed it Fathpur, or ‘City of Victory’. Keshav Kalan designed this composition (tarh) over two pages, with a junior artist completing the colouring (amal, literally ‘work’) on each page. This was usual practice for manuscript production in Akbar’s reign. [27/9/2013]

Production Note

Composed by Kesav Kalan, painted by Jagjivan.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Ruler; Courtyard; Elephant; Victory

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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