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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kanha (maker)
    Nanha (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:57-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is the left side of a double-page illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar). The right side is Museum no. IS.2:64-1896. The entire composition was designed by the Mughal artist Kanha, and the details on this side were painted by Nanha. The illustration depicts an unidentified episode in 1567 on the bank of the river Ganges in north-east India, preceding the defeat of the rebel general Khan Zaman by the Mughal army.

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 illustrations to the V&A’s partial copy of the manuscript were painted concurrently by the royal artists. Many of these are listed by Abu’l Fazl in the third volume of the text, the A’in-i Akbari, and some of these names appear in the V&A illustrations, written in red ink beneath the pictures, showing that this was a royal copy made for Akbar himself. After his death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son Jahangir, from whom it was inherited by Shah Jahan.

The V&A purchased the manuscript in 1896 from 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, left side of a double picture, the right side being IS.2:64-1896. Depicts an episode on the bank of the Ganges preceding the defeat of Khan Zaman.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Kanha (maker)
Nanha (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Tarh-e Kanha/Amal-e Nanha'
'composition by Kanha/work [=painting] by Nanha'
Contemporary librarian's attribution in Persian written beneath the image at the bottom of the page in red ink

Dimensions

Height: 32.8 cm, Width: 18.9 cm

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 concurrently by at least forty-nine different court artists. 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 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,on the bank of the Ganges, preceding defeat of Khan Zaman, outline by Kanha, painting by Nanha, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

Production Note

Outline composed by Kanha, painting by Nanha.

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

River; Men

Categories

ELISE; Paintings; Images Online; Illustration; Bonita Trust Indian Paintings Cataloguing Project

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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