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Akbar and Jaimal

  • Object:

    Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:68-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The painting is an illustration from the Akbarnama. It depicts the fall of the Rajasthani fortress of Chitor in 1568, when the Mughal army succeeded in approaching the ramparts by constructing covered defences. As Akbar surveyed the battle one evening, he took aim with his gun at a figure in the fort whose studded coat indicated that he was a leading enemy soldier. The shot killed the man, who was discovered to be the Rajput hero Jaimal, and the fortress fell to the Mughals.

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, a scene that took place during the prolonged attack on the Rajasthani fortress of Chitor by the Mughal army in 1567. The covered lines of attack built by the Mughals allow the army, including armoured elephants (centre left) to approach the walls of the fortress (shown upper left). Akbar is shown top right, holding the gun called Sangram with which he has just shot a figure in a studded coat. The figure is Jaimal, the general of the enemy army, and the fortress submitted soon afterwards to the Mughal forces.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

153 in Arabic numerals in red ink at centre of border at bottom

Dimensions

Height: 32.1 cm painting, Width: 19 cm painting, Height: 38.1 cm page, Width: 22.4 cm page

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 Mrs Frances Clarke, the widow of Major-General John Clarke, who had bought it while serving as Commissioner of Oudh in India 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 finest royal painters of the time, many of whom receive special mention by Abu'l Fazl in the A'in-i-Akbari, the third book of the Akbarnama. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings are the contemporary attributions of a librarian.

Jackson, Anna and Jaffer, Amin (eds), with Deepika Ahlawat. Maharaja : the splendour of India's royal courts. London, V&A Publishing, 2009. ISBN.9781851775736 (hbk.), ISBN.1851775730 (hbk.).

Plate 37, Page 54.

Descriptive line

Painting, Akbarnama, Akbar shoots Jaimal, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

p. 74, pl. 48
STRONGE, Susan. Painting for the Mughal Emperor: The Art of the Book 1560 – 1660 London : V&A Publications, 2002. 192p, ill. ISBN 1 85177 358 4.

Production Note

The artists are unidentified.
The attribution place is likely to be Lahore.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Soldiers; Horses (animals); Ruler; Elephants

Categories

Paintings; Manuscripts; Images Online; Military; Illustration; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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