Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Portrait Of Shah Jahan And His Three Sons
Mughal, circa 1628 CE or later
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold on paper
Page 35.8 x 24.2 cm; Image 24.8 x 14.7 cm
The emperor sits in haloed profile upon a gold-footed throne under a high white canopy, flanked by his three young princes who stand on the left. All are resplendent with opulently bejewelled turbans, necklaces, qatar daggers, and sashes (patkas) against a rounded backdrop of turquoise, perhaps suggesting a globe, as golden light appears on the right. The inscription on this Mughal painting identifies it as a portrait of emperor Jahangir and his three sons, but what we see today are the faces of Shah Jahan (r. 1628-57 CE) and his three eldest sons - Dara Shikoh (1615-59 CE), Shah Shuja' (1616-59 CE) and Awrangzeb (1618-1707 CE) - and their maternal grandfather, Asaf Khan, on the right. It was not unusual for the Mughals to refurbish earlier works for propaganda reasons. The inscription at bottom left reads, “work of the most humble of the house born, Manohar.” Sheila Canby notes that the painting is characteristic of Manohar’s style from about 1615 CE except for the refurbished faces, and that the composition follows the conventions of intimate royal portraits from Akbar’s reign, which, under Jahangir and Shah Jahan in the 1610s–1620s, developed to include a more psychological focus.
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