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Painting

  • Place of origin:

    Mughal Empire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1590-95 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Naqqash, Husain (maker)
    Kesav (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

  • Museum number:

    IS.2:113-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This painting is the right side of a double-page composition from the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar). The left side is Museum no. IS.2:112-1896. The general Husain Quli Khan Jahan is depicted here presenting prisoners to the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) in 1572, after the victorious military campaign in Gujarat, north-western India. The conquest of Gujarat, an area with many ports that dominated India’s trade with western Asia, was of immense strategic importance in the military campaigns of the early part of Akbar’s reign.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar 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. This is thought to be the earliest illustrated version of the text, and drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal artists of the time. 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.

Physical description

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, right hand side of double picture, the left hand being IS.2:112-1896. Depicts Husain Quli Khan Jahan paying his respects to Akbar while presenting prisoners of war from Gujarat. An assembly of courtiers is shown facing Akbar who appears from a balcony window.

Place of Origin

Mughal Empire (made)

Date

ca. 1590-95 (made)

Artist/maker

Naqqash, Husain (maker)
Kesav (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Painted in opaque watercolour and gold on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'amal Husain Naqqash/chehreh nami Kesav'
'painted by Husain Naqqash faces by Kesav'
The contemporary attribution to Husain Naqqash and Kesav is written in Persian in red ink is in the margin below the picture. The other side (IS.2:112-1896) has an inscription attributing the overall composition to Basawan.

Dimensions

Height: 32.8 cm, Width: 19.2 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 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 Frances Clarke the widow of Major General Clarke, an official who had been the Commissioner in Oudh province between 1858 and 1862.

Historical significance: The V&A's partial manuscript 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, Husain Quli Khan Jahan paying respects to Akbar, outline and painting by Husain Naqqash, portraits by Kesu, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1590-95

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

Asok Kumar Das, Dawn of Mughal Painting, Bombay 1982, pl. XII, p. 32
Susan Stronge, Made for Mughal emperors, Roli Books, 2010, pl. 16, p. 36
p. 36, pl. 16
Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010
p. 60, ill. no. 9
Bor, J. and Bruguiere, P. Gloire des Princes: Louange des Dieux, Musee de la Musique, 2003.
p. 68
Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1983, ISBN 0-85667-120-7

Production Note

Composition probably by Basawan, painting by Husain Naqqash, portraits by Kesav

Materials

Paper; Opaque watercolour; Paint

Techniques

Painted; Drawing

Subjects depicted

Balcony; Courtiers; Ruler; Prisoners

Categories

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

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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