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Husain Mirza

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Miskina (maker)
    Banwali the Younger (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:98-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting from the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) was designed by the Mughal court artist Miskina with details painted by Banwali Khord. It illustrates a battle between the Mughals and Muhammad Husain Mirza near Ahmadabad in north-west India in 1573, during the long and ultimately successful Mughal campaign to conquer the territory of Gujarat. Those bearing the title Mirza were, like the Mughal royal family, descended from Timur, the Central Asian ruler who had briefly conquered Hindustan, as the northern regions of South Asia were known, in 1398. As a result, Hindustan was later seen as a legitimate target for conquest by members of the different branches of the family. During the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) battles between Mughal forces and various Mirzas frequently took place as each tried to seize control of a particular region. The title Mirza is a contraction of the Persian ‘Amirzadeh’, meaning ‘born of the amir’ (that is, Timur). Here, Muhammad Husain Mirza had taken advantage of Akbar’s departure from Gujarat to try to seize the region, and Mughal forces had been despatched to prevent this.

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.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, the battle between the forces of Akbar and Muhammed Husain Mirza near Ahmadabad, in 1573.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Miskina (maker)
Banwali the Younger (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh: Miskina/Amal: Banwali Khurd'
'composition by Miskina/work [= painting] by Banwali the Younger'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink.

Dimensions

Height: 38.1 cm folio, Width: 22.4 cm folio

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, battle between the imperial army and Husain Mirza near Ahmadabad, outline by Miskin, painting Banwali the Younger, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Ruler; Battle

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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