Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Portrait of Ibrahim 'Adil Shah II of Bijapur", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Hashim (active 1620–60)
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
verso: ca. 1620; recto: 1534 or later
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 5/16 in. (38.9 cm)
W. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
Ibrahim 'Adil Shah II (r. 1580–1627) was the sixth ruler of Bijapur, a kingdom in the Deccan region of India. It has been argued that the artist Hashim, who painted this likeness, joined the Mughal imperial atelier around 1620, after serving in the Deccan. Whereas the strong contours, costume details, and palette are considered to be vestiges of Hashim’s Deccani origins, his thoroughly Mughal rendering of facial features is attributed to changes made under Jahangir’s guidance. verso–Ibrahim 'Adilshah II of Bijapur

INSCRIBED: (on portrait in Jahangir's hand)
shabih-i khub-i lbrahim 'Adilkhan (a good
portrait of Ibrahim 'Adilkhan); (below, probably
in Shahjahan's hand) 'amal-i Hashim (done
by Hashim)

BIJAPUR WAS the largest and southernmost of the five kingdoms of the Deccan that resulted from the breakup of the Bahmanid empire at the end of the fifteenth century. The sixth sultan of the 'Adilshah dynasty that ruled Bijapur from 1490 until 1688 was Ibrahim 'Adilshah II (r. 1580–1626). Nephew of the formidable Princess Chand Bibi of Ahmadnagar and 'Ali 'Adilshah I of Bijapur, Ibrahim II was "superior to any of the sultans of the Deccan in both lands and wealth,"[1] and modern writers have viewed him as a "liberal and tolerant monarch who allowed complete freedom of worship to his non-Muhammadan subjects, Hindus as well as Christians."[2] During his reign civil administration was improved and friendly relations were maintained with the Portuguese at Goa, which lay within the borders of Bijapur. The kingdom was extended down to the borders of Mysore, and the city of Bijapur was adorned with many fine examples of Deccani architecture.

A contemporary Mughal writer, 'Abdul-Baqi Nihawandi, remarks that the credit for the achievements of 'Adilshah's reign belonged chiefly to his ministers–"he himself seeks amusement in pleasure and frivolity. He is perfectly acquainted with the science of music and spends most of his time with Indian musicians and singers. He has composed some songs in the Hindi language and has named a number of them nauras. His fondness for music is more than can be described."[3]

Wheeler M. Thackston in [Welch et al. 1987]

"As 'ADIL KHAN was constantly asking for a likeness of myself through my son Shah-Jahan, I sent him one with a ruby of great value and a special elephant." So wrote Jahangir in his Tuzuk during the thirteenth year of his reign (A.D. 1618) when Sultan Ibrahim was forty-seven years old, approximately the age at which he is shown here. Hashim, whose career has been discussed in connection with his portrait of the Khankhanan (pl. 20 in this volume) specialized in portraits of Deccani subjects and probably had observed Sultan Ibrahim in Bijapur. Thus, when asked by Jahangir to paint the great connoisseur, musician, and patron in unidealized detail, he did not spare the hook nose, beady eye, and protruding lower lip. Inasmuch as the flowers at the sultan's feet are Deccani in their lyricism but Mughal in their naturalistic scale, this portrait was probably painted soon after the artist's arrival at the Mughal court.

To Jahangir, Sultan Ibrahim was always a rival and often an enemy, hence someone of whom a soul-baring portrait was needed. His domain and wealth had inspired imperial aggression since Akbar's reign. But he also earned Jahangir's reluctant respect as a gifted musician and poet and as a patron of architecture and painting. Inasmuch as the two rulers were pitted against each other in realms of culture as well as on battlefields, Jahangir took equal satisfaction in luring a major artist from the sultan's workshops as in scoring a military coup in the Deccan, where Mughal armies were finally victorious in the late seventeenth century.

Few Mughal artists equaled Hashim in depicting dignified, solidly grounded figures, weighty as the Deccani granite of Daulatabad Fort, moving with infinite authority at elephantine pace yet possessed of paradoxical grace. The impression of forceful dignity is achieved sparingly, with no trace of fussiness, but with reserves of concealed power.[4]

Stuart Cary Welch in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE OUTER BORDER of this verso portrait has gold flowers on a pink ground in the exuberant lush style associated with Daulat although the drawing and brushwork are not as fine as that master's. The painter was perhaps a follower or pupil of Daulat. The inner border has a gold flower-head and leaf scroll on a blue ground. There is no innermost border with cutout poetry; this may indicate an album or origin different from that of the three paintings with the same border scheme (i.e., MMA fols. 3r, 29r, and 6r; pls. 24, 26, and 74 in this volume).
Artistic compatibility would suggest that cutout poetry around a portrait would pertain throughout an album, or a lack of it would be equally consistent, unless, of course, the addition of poetic framing borders was dependent on the size of the original painting (unnecessary in large paintings, as here, while filling up the extra space in small paintings). The margin number 51 does not fit in with the multiples of 6 of the other three leaves, which have 6, 12, and 18 as margin numbers. In that scheme 54r and 53v (and not 51v) should have shared the same pattern. Again, according to the margin numbers, this leaf would have faced the recto page with the margin number 52. That is the page with the portrait of Danyal, brother of Jahangir (pl. 18 in this volume). The small portrait of Danyal and the rather imposing and larger one of Ibrahim 'Adilshah II would not have looked particularly well opposite each other; however, that does not always seem to have been a consideration.

Of the border flowers, an iris can be identified in the upper left corner. Within the painting a rose appears before the portrait.

An early nineteenth-century copy of this portrait was auctioned at Sotheby's on October 14, 1980, lot 190, (illustrated). The border of this copy appears (from the black-and-white photograph) to consist of flowering plants in colors and gold on a buff ground with rather soft, indecisive drawing. No attempt was made to copy the gold plants on a pink ground of the seventeenth-century border. Gold plants on a pink ground are very rare, if they exist at all, in nineteenth-century borders.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]


1. Iskandar Beg Turkuman. Tarikh-i 'Alam-ara-yi 'Abbasi. 2 vols. Teheran, A. H. 1350/ A.D. 1972., II, p. 1069

2. Sachchidananda Bhattacharya, A Dictionary of Indian History, p. 436.

3. 'Abd al-Baqi Nihawandi. Ma'athir-i Rahimi. Ed. Muhammad Hidayat Husayn. 3 vols. in 4. Calcutta, 1931–64., II, p. 409.

4. For another version of this portrait, see Heeramaneck, Alice N. Masterpieces of Indian Painting from the Former Collections of Nasli M. Heeramaneck. New York, 1984, pl. 236. An early nineteenth-century traced copy; painted in reverse, was exhibited in Delhi in 1911; see Loan Exhibition of Antiquities: Coronation Durbar, 1911. Delhi Museum of Archaeology, [1911], no. C. 125a, pl. XXXIC. recto–Calligraphy.

THIS PERSIAN quatrain contains a chronogram for the second investiture of Shad Muhammad as ataliq (regent) in A.H. 941/ A.D. 1534. The poem was composed and written by Mir-'Ali in Bukhara.

The page is surrounded by a fragment of a ghazal in the upper line and down the left side, which is followed by the beginning of another ghazal; in the lower line and continuing up the right side is the beginning of a ghazal about the beloved's mouth.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE LARGE PLANTS are boldly presented, while the gold brushstrokes within the flowers themselves add to the general richness. There is a vitality in the treatment of the plants that masks the slightly heavy-handed drawing. Two irises may be found in the inner border, one plant down from the top and one up from the bottom, with a third one row up on the inner side of the outer border. The plant at the middle of the outer border on the inner side may be a Galanthus (snowdrop), while the plant above it is a freesia.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]
Signature: recto:
In Persian, in lower left triangle: Written by Mir 'Ali.

Inscription: verso:
In Persian, along left side of portrait (in Jahangir's hand): "A good portrait of Ibrahim 'Adil Khan"
In Persian, under portrait (in Shah Jahan's hand): "Work of Hashim"

Marking: verso:
Margin number '51' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
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]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Emperor's Album: Images of Mughal India," October 21, 1987–February 14, 1988, nos. 35 and 36.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultan Ali of Mashhad, Master of Nasta'liq," January 19, 2001–May 27, 2001, no catalogue.

Skelton, Robert. "Documents for the Study of Painting at Bijapur in the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries." Arts Asiatiques vol. 5 (1958). p. 103, ill. fig. 3 (b/w).

Swietochowski, Marie, and Richard Ettinghausen. "Islamic Painting." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., vol. 36, no. 2 (Autumn 1978). p. 40, ill. p. 40 (b/w).

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. nos. 35, 36, pp. 153-157, ill., verso pl. 35 (b/w); recto pl. 36 (b/w).

Okada, Amina. Imperial Mughal Painters: Indian Miniatures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. p. 151, ill. fig. 175 (color), verso.

Blair, Sheila S. Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Library, 2006. pp. 431-432, ill. fig. 10.6 (color.

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