Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Portrait of Raja Bikramajit (Sundar Das)", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
recto: ca. 1620; verso: ca. 1540
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
15 1/4 x 10 1/8in. (38.7 x 25.7cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
Sundar Das was a Hindu whoses ancestors had been considerable landowners. He entered the service of Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) and in 1617 Jahangir awarded him the title of Raja Bikramajit "which among Hindus is the highest" as Jahangir wrote in his memoirs. Raja Bikramajit was a brilliant military strategist and instrumental to the success of Prince Khurram's campaigns in the Deccan. In Shah Jahan's rebellion against Jahanagir in 1623–24, Raja Bikramajit sided with the prince, and when he was killed in battle, Jahangir was unashamedly gleeful, writing "By losing him the Wretch [Shah Jahan] lost courage, as though his luck, ambition, and reason were all found up with that Hindu dog." In Bichitr's brilliant portrait, the figure positively pulses with life.
Signature: verso:
In Persian, in lower left corner triangle: Written by the poor Ali, may God cover his faults.

Inscription: recto:
In Persian, on the green ground, to the right of portrait (in Jahangir's hand): Raja Bikramajit.
In Persian, on the pink and gold floral border (in Shah Jahan's hand): Portrait of Raja Bikramajit. Work of Bichitr.

Marking: recto:
Margin number '58' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, to Kevorkian); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, from 1929]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; gift and sale to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Emperor's Album: Images of Mughal India," October 21, 1987–February 14, 1988, nos. 31 and 32.

Memoirs of Jahangir. London, 1829. p. 28.

Welch, Stuart Cary, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, and Wheeler M. Thackston. The Emperors' Album: Images of Mughal India. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. nos. 31, 32, pp. 144-147, 150, ill., verso pl. 31 (b/w); recto pl. 32 (color).

Okada, Amina. Imperial Mughal Painters: Indian Miniatures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. p. 166, ill. fig. 198 (b/w), recto.

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