Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Portrait Of An Ottoman With A Book
Mughal, circa 1610 CE
Materials and technique
Ink, opaque watercolour, and gold paper
15.5 x 20 cm
Like his father Akbar (r. 1556-1605 CE) before him, the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-27 CE) showed an interest in portraiture, continuing his father’s portrait albums and encouraging court artists to capture the psychology of their subjects in their portraits (Welch 1985, p. 226). This portrait of an Ottoman holding a book demonstrates that subjects were not limited to Mughals and Indians alone, but also included foreigners who were in frequent contact with the royal court. It was not unusual for court artists to record meetings between the emperor and his visitors in painting (see, for example, a portrait study of Shah 'Abbas by Jahangir’s court artist Bishn Das, in the British Museum, in Canby 2009, p. 38, no. 1). This painting is identified on the reverse as a gift given by a certain Baha’ al-Din on 6 Urdibihisht [regnal] year 5, which is equal to 26 April 1610 CE and falls under Jahangir’s reign. Persian and Mughal seal impressions from later periods also appear on the back of the page, as well as notes about when the work entered the Mewar Royal Library along with that library’s stamp and the royal inventory number of 20/220.
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