"The Emperor Shah Jahan with his Son Dara Shikoh", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Artist: Painting by Nanha

Calligrapher: Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)

Object Name: Album leaf

Date: verso: ca. 1620; recto: ca. 1530–50

Geography: India

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Margins: Gold and opaque watercolor on dyed paper

Dimensions: H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm)
W. 10 5/16 in. (26.2 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955

Accession Number: 55.121.10.36

Description

This superbly painted image framed by a splendid border shows the future emperor admiring jewels with his favorite son. Holding a tray of emeralds and rubies, the father contemplates a ruby in his right hand, while the child grasps a peacock fan and a turban ornament. They are seated on a raised dais that is placed at an uncharacteristic angle to the picture plane. Both father and son are turned toward the viewer but, as with most Mughal portraits, their heads are seen in strict profile. The sumptuousness of court life is conveyed in the detailed depiction of the jewels, the gilded furniture, the textiles, and, most spectacularly, the large bolster with its designs of figures and plants. The asymmetry of the page and the naturalistic scene set against a large expanse of mostly undifferentiated background are especially strong design elements. In many ways these features relate to a traditional Rajput sensibility, which undoubtedly informs this work. The composition is further enhanced by the border, whose flora and fauna are unusually varied and freely disposed.

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