"Study of a Nilgai (Blue Bull)", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Mansur
Calligrapher Mir 'Ali Haravi

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.

"Study of a Nilgai (Blue Bull)", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album, Painting by Mansur (active ca. 1589–1626), Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

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