Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Akbar and Rai Surjan Hada

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Karan, Khem (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:73-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This illustration from the Akbarnama depicts Akbar, in white at top right of the page, directing the assault of the Mughal army on the Rajput fortress of Ranthambhor in 1569.

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, Akbar (in white, at top right) directing the attack against Rai Surjan Hada at Ranthambhor fort. The fort is perched on top of a steep rock cliff, and its guns blaze out across a void at the Mughal troops on the facing rocky outcrop. Tents are pitched at lower left, near the men who are constructing 'sabats', or covered ways, in order to allow the army to move nearer to the enemy.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Karan, Khem (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

amal Khem Karan
Painted by Khem Karan
The contemporary attribution in Persian is written in red ink in the margin beneath the picture.

Dimensions

Height: 33 cm painting, Width: 21 cm painting

Object history note

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the Emperor Akbar in 1589 as an 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. 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 while serving in India as Commissioner of Oudh.

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, Akbar directing attack on Ranthambor Fort, by Khim Karan, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The Art of the Book 1560-1650, V&A Publications, 2002, pl. 22, p. 37.
Andrew Topsfield, cat. no. 31.
The Indian heritage : court life & arts under Mughal rule : Victoria & Albert Museum 21 April-22 August 1982. [London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982] Number: 0905209206 (pbk.)
p. 15, cat. no. 7.
Topsfield, Andrew, An introduction to Indian Court Painting, H.M.S.O., London, 1984, 0112903835

Production Note

Composed and painted by Khem Karan.
Attribution place is likely to be Lahore

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Cliff; Cannon; Fort; Tents; Warfare; Men; Horses; Emperor; Ruler

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.