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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bhura (maker)
    Basawan (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:80-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration from the Akbarnama depicts the celebrations at the royal city of Fathhpur ('City of Victory', and later known as Fathepur Sikri) after the birth of Akbar's second son, Murad, in 1570.

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.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, depicts the rejoicings at the royal city of Fathpur (Fatehpur Sikri) on the birth of Akbar's second son, Mirza Murad, in 1570. Musicians play in the lower left, women pour rosewater, play instruments, offer garlands and vessels on trays, while the baby and its mother are shown at top right with servants.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Bhura (maker)
Basawan (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'amal Bhurah/chehra nami Basawan'
'Work [ie painting] by Bhura/portraits by Basawan'
This is a contemporary attribution in Persian, written in red ink in the lower margin beneath the picture.

Dimensions

Width: 19.5 cm, Height: 33.2 cm painting

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 illustrated by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio between about 1590 and 1595. After Akbar's death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir. 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 in Oudh province from 1858 to 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 refer to the artists and indicate that this was a royal copy.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, rejoicings on the birth of Akbar's second son, Murad, outline and painting by Bhura, portraits by Basawan, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Susan Stronge, Painting for the Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560-1660, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 34, p. 51
p.137, cat. no. 142
In the image of man : the Indian perception of the universe through 2000 years of painting and sculpture : [exhibition / organized by Catherine Lampert assisted by Rosalie Cass]. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson :in association with the Arts Council of Great Britain, 1982 Number: 0297780719, 0297781243 (pbk.)
p. 151, cat. no. 881 b
The art of India and Pakistan, a commemorative catalogue of the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947-8. Edited by Sir Leigh Ashton. London: Faber and Faber, [1950]

Production Note

Composition and painting by Bhura, portraits by Basawan.
Attribution place is likely to be Delhi, Agra or Fatehpur Sikri.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Garlands; Birth; Prince; Birth; Vessels

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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