Portrait of Emperor Jahangir, Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

Portrait of Emperor Jahangir

Object Name:
Illustrated single work
ca. 1615–20
Made in India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Image: H. 8 7/8 in. (22.5 cm)
W. 5 7/8 in. (14.9 cm)
Page: H. 14 5/8 in. (37.1 cm)
W. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Mat: W. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
H. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Alexander Smith Cochran, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
Jahangir was an exacting patron who worked closely with the artists in his employ. The style of portraiture created during his reign changed dramatically with the influx of European prints into India. He had many of these prints copied, so closely that the visitors who had brought them could not distinguish the originals, and this zest for accuracy is reflected in the painting here. A straightforward likeness, this portrait is very different in tone from the allegorical portraits of emperors that were also popular. No putti herald the emperor from the heavens and there is no representation of his vast domains in the background. Rather, Jahangir is presented as a lover of books, a no-nonsense ruler squarely in the line of those listed in the chart on the back of the painting, which gives his genealogy stretching back to Timur.
Inscription: Translation: In small gold cartouche above is his name: "Jahangir Shahi. God is the Creator." In small gold cartouche below portrait is artist's signature: "The slave Ni'mat Qadim Abu 'l Hasan." As this is in a cartouche and not on the painting itself, it may be an attribution.
On reverse: a medallion with a large seal of nine circles. Center: "Abu'l-Musaffar Nur ad-Din Jahangir Padishah Ghazi, year 62 (?)." The eight circles outside: 1) son of Akbar padishah 2) son of Humayun padishah 3) son of Babur padishah 4) son of 'Umar Shaikh Mirza 5) son of Sultan Abu Sa'id 6) son of Sultan Muhammad Mirza 7) son of Miran Shah 8) son of Timur mir (or amir) Sahib Qiran." These are Jahangir's ancestors in the direct line back to Timur.

Marking: See additional card.
Alexander Smith Cochran, Yonkers, NY (until 1913; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Roof Garden Commission: Imran Qureshi’s Miniature Paintings," July 29, 2013–February 2, 2014.

Valentiner, William Reinhold. "The Cochran Collection of Persian Manuscripts." Museum of Metropolitan Art Bulletin, old series, vol. 8 (1913). pp. 80-86.

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. 154, ill. fig. 28 (color).