Painting

ca. 1612 (painted)
Painting thumbnail 1
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The painting of a North American turkey cock (Meleagris gallopavo) done for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) is a record of the arrival of this exotic bird at the court in 1612. Jahangir had asked his friend, the high-ranking noble Muqarrab Khan, to procure rarities of any kind at the port of Cambay, on the western coast, and in 1612 a consignment of exotic birds and animals caused a sensation. Jahangir recorded this in his memoirs, written in Persian. The English translation is by Alexander Rogers and Henry Beveridge: "as these animals appeared to me to be very strange, I both described them and ordered that painters should draw them in the Jahangir-nama ["Book of Jahangir", his memoirs], so that the amazement that arose from hearing of them might be increased. One of these animals in body is larger than a peahen and smaller than a peacock. When it is in heat and displays itself, it spreads out its feathers like the peacock and dances about. Its beak and legs are like those of a cock. Its head and neck and the part under the throat are every minute of a different colour. When it is in heat it is quite red - one might say it had adorned itself with red coral - and after a while it becomes white in the same places and looks like cotton. It sometimes looks of a turquoise colour. Like a chameleon it constantly changes colour." The painting, signed by the leading artist of the court Mansur, was preserved in an album, probably during the reign of Jahangir when the floral borders were added to it. At an unknown date the album was dismembered, and this page was part of a group of folios bequeathed to the museum in 1921 by Lady Wantage.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Brief Description
Painting, turkey cock, by Mansur, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1612
Physical Description
Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, a turkey cock facing left, painted on a ground undecorated except for a line of flowers beneath its feet and streaks of clouds above. The artist's signature is beneath its wattle on the undecorated ground above the flowers. The painting is framed by bands of calligraphy above and beneath, and the page has borders of gold-painted flowering plants on undyed paper.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12.8cm
  • Width: 12.2cm
  • Page height: 39cm
  • Page width: 26.4cm
Content description
A turkey cock facing left, painted on a ground undecorated except for a line of flowers beneath its feet and streaks of clouds above. The artist's signature is beneath its wattle on the undecorated ground above the flowers. The painting is framed by bands of calligraphy above and beneath, and the page has borders of gold-painted flowering plants on undyed paper.
Styles
Marks and Inscriptions
(This is the signature of the artist, not an attribution.)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Lady Wantage
Object history
Another version of this painting is in the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Jaipur: A.G. 839; others are in the Indian Museum Kolkata (R210) and Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge ((PD 83-1948).
Subjects depicted
Summary
The painting of a North American turkey cock (Meleagris gallopavo) done for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) is a record of the arrival of this exotic bird at the court in 1612. Jahangir had asked his friend, the high-ranking noble Muqarrab Khan, to procure rarities of any kind at the port of Cambay, on the western coast, and in 1612 a consignment of exotic birds and animals caused a sensation. Jahangir recorded this in his memoirs, written in Persian. The English translation is by Alexander Rogers and Henry Beveridge: "as these animals appeared to me to be very strange, I both described them and ordered that painters should draw them in the Jahangir-nama ["Book of Jahangir", his memoirs], so that the amazement that arose from hearing of them might be increased. One of these animals in body is larger than a peahen and smaller than a peacock. When it is in heat and displays itself, it spreads out its feathers like the peacock and dances about. Its beak and legs are like those of a cock. Its head and neck and the part under the throat are every minute of a different colour. When it is in heat it is quite red - one might say it had adorned itself with red coral - and after a while it becomes white in the same places and looks like cotton. It sometimes looks of a turquoise colour. Like a chameleon it constantly changes colour." The painting, signed by the leading artist of the court Mansur, was preserved in an album, probably during the reign of Jahangir when the floral borders were added to it. At an unknown date the album was dismembered, and this page was part of a group of folios bequeathed to the museum in 1921 by Lady Wantage.
Bibliographic References
  • Clarke, C. Stanley; Indian Drawings: Thirty Mogul Paintings of the School of Jehangir and Four Panels of Calligraphy ini the Wantage Bequest. London 1922No. 23, pl. 15Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.79, no.54 Asok Kumar Das, Wonders of Nature. Ustad Mansur at the Mughal Court, The Marg Foundation, Mumbai, 2012, fig. V.19, and pp. 96-99
  • Susan Stronge, Painting for the Mughal Emperor. The art of the book 1560-1660, plate 99 and pp. 134-135.
  • Topsfield, Andrew, An introduction to Indian Court Painting, H.M.S.O., London, 1984, 0112903835p. 19, cat. no. 9.
Collection
Accession Number
IM.135-1921

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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