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

Painting by Bichitr (active ca. 1610–60)

Calligrapher:
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
Date:
recto: ca. 1620; verso: ca. 1540
Geography:
India
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
15 1/4 x 10 1/8in. (38.7 x 25.7cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
55.121.10.1
  • Description

    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.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: 55.121.10.1 verso:
    In Persian, in lower left corner triangle: Written by the poor Ali, may God cover his faults.

    Inscription: 55.121.10.1 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: 55.121.10.1 recto:
    Margin number '58' is inscribed in the gilt margin.

  • Provenance

    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]

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
451257:3

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