"Study of a Nilgai (Blue Bull)", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album
Painting by Mansur (active ca. 1589–1626)
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
verso: ca. 1620; recto ca. 1540
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm)
W. 10 1/16 in. (25.6 cm)
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
The nilgai, though known as a blue bull, is a type of antelope found in central and northern India and eastern Pakistan. This study was painted by Mansur, probably after observing the animal in Jahangir’s (r. 1605–27) zoological garden. While great detail is lavished on the depiction of the animal, down to the distinctive swirl of hair where his neck meets his body, the background makes no reference to the nilgai’s natural habitat. As in portraits of people, a neutral or harmonious setting prevailed in Mughal animal paintings.
Signature: 22.214.171.124 verso: In Persian near forelegs: Work of the servant of the palace Mansur Nadir al-Asr.
126.96.36.199 recto: In Persian in upper left corner: Written by the sinful slave 'Ali, may God forgive his sins.
Inscription: Inscription in Persian in nasta‘liq script at top:
From the reign of Emperor Jahangir
In front of animal’s leg:
عمل بنده درگاه منصور نا در العصر
Work of the servant of the palace, Mansur, “Wonder of the Age”
Marking: 188.8.131.52 verso: Margin number '25' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's, London,December 12, 1929, no. 143, to Kevorkian); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, from 1929]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; gift and sale to MMA]
Sotheby's: Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, New York, 1929. no.143.
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 144-45, ill. fig. 111 (color).
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. 47, pp. 178-179, ill., pl. 47 (color).
Welch, Stuart Cary. "Art and Culture 1300–1900." In India!. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 142, p. 216, ill. (color).
Alexander, David G., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. "in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Islamic Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. p. 213, ill. fig. 33 (color).
Kossak, Steven M., ed. Indian Court Painting 16th–19th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 20, p. 48, ill. (color).
Okada, Amina. Imperial Mughal Painters: Indian Miniatures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. pp. 220-221, ill. fig. 259 (color), verso.
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 250B, pp. 340, 358-360, ill. p. 359 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, and Claire Moore, ed. "A Resource for Educators." In Art of the Islamic World. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 158, ill. fig. 34 (color).