1. Akbar Mounting his Horse; page from the Chester Beatty Akbar Nama (History of Akbar), 1605-07. Attributed to Sur Das Gujarati (Indian, 16th century)


2. Aurangzeb, c. 1770. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756)



3. Page from the Late Shah Jahan Album: Prince and Ascetics

by Govardhan( 1596-1645)


 4. Emperor Shah Jahan, late 17th century. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756).


5. Emperor Jahangir had tiny portraits of himself made to give as gifts to his friends, family, and courtiers as a sign of royal favor. These portraits were mounted and worn as jewels or turban ornaments.
The carpet or textile under his hands references the covered rail of a balcony where the emperor addressed the public three times a day to hear complaints or petitions. 


6. The game of wolf-running in Tabriz, from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar)

    by Banwari (1598-1600)


7. Circumcision ceremony for Akbar’s sons, painting 126 from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar) of Abu’l Fazl (Indian, 1551–1602) 


 8. Girls Spraying Each Other at Holi, c. 1640-1650. Northwestern India, Rajasthan, Bikaner, 17th century.

9. Mughal ruler Humayun defeating the Afghans before reconquering India, folio from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar) of Abu’l Fazl (Indian, 1551–1602)



10. Harem Night-Bathing Scene (recto): Calligraphy Framed by an Ornamental Border of Flowers and Birds (verso), c. 1650. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756), 17th Century


11.Women bathing before an architectural panorama, c. 1765. Fayzullah (Indian,c. 1730–1765). Opaque watercolor and gold on paper


 11. A Mughal Prince, Perhaps Danyal, Holding a Sprig of Flowers (1580-1590)


12. Posthumous portrait of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (reigned 1719-1748) holding a falcon

Emperor Muhammad Shah, who reigned from 1719 to 1748, was known as “Rangila,” which means “the Colorful.” The innovative use of a black background sharply sets off the chartreuse green of his jama and the pearls of his adornments and bolster. On his left thumb he wears an archer’s ring, and a stabbing dagger is tucked into his bejeweled belt. Even his trained hunting falcon has a ruby necklace. In this formal posthumous portrait, the master artist conveys a heightened realism that emerges effortlessly from elegant contour lines and bold use of color. The work was part of an album of paintings collected in India before 1811 by a Scottish politician who worked for the British East India Company.



13. Lovers Embracing, c. 1630. India, Popular Mughal School, probably done at Bikaner, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756). 


The grape-laden vine intertwined around the tree is a poetic visual metaphor for the lovers in close embrace beneath it. The attendant with a fan looks away as the lady on the man’s lap receives a kiss and raises a cup of wine. The sumptuous carpet and bolster patterns have been wrought with the detail and care for which Mughal artists are renowned.


14. Lady after a Bath, 1700s. India, Mughal, 18th century. 



15. Portrait of Alamgir (r. 1658-1707), c. 1700. India, Mughal. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper


Probably painted shortly before his death, this portrait of Shah Jahan’s son, the sixth Mughal emperor Alamgir (reigned 1658–1707), reveals his sober and orthodox temperament. Alamgir did not care for music, art, or literature. Instead, he focused his resources on expanding the empire’s boundaries, which he succeeded in doing well beyond the territories claimed by his predecessors.  


 16. Rooster, c. 1620. India, Mughal, 17th century. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper;


This bird, with its fierce expression, sharp beak, and spurred feet, may have been a champion in the cockfighting ring. The Mughal emperor Jahangir requested that his royal court artists paint portraits of remarkable birds and animals with as much realism as possible. He felt that such paintings enhanced feelings of amazement beyond hearing or reading an account. 


17. The place of Jesus’s birth, from a Mir’at al-quds of Father Jerome Xavier (Spanish, 1549–1617) 


Instead of a stable, the artist has interpreted the place of Jesus’s birth as an abandoned ruin. Mary is cleaning it with a peacock-feather whisk, while Joseph negotiates with a man dressed in full Mughal attire at the doorway. The camel is laden with belongings and an Indian-style bed.

 18. Portrait of Suraj Singh Rathor, Raja of Marwar and Maternal Uncle of Shah Jahan: A Page from the Prince Khurram Album by Bishandas(1610-1630)


 This true-to-life portrait depicts the maternal uncle of the Mughal prince Khurram (1592-1658), who would later become the emperor Shah Jahan. His clothing and accessories-especially the six-pointed wrapped tunic made of prized translucent muslin-reveal his wealth and status. The artist’s skillful brushwork conveys the varied textures of the fabrics and sensitively renders his patient, somewhat weary expression. Prince Khurram selected this painting for inclusion in an album he assembled in 1612. Suraj Singh was a Hindu prince from Marwar, a Rajput kingdom under the auspices of the Mughal empire. His sister, a Marwar princess, was the third wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. Intermarriage with Hindu families is one example of the ecumenism of the early Mughal emperors, who adhered to a liberal form of Islam. Suraj Singh died of natural causes while on a military campaign with Prince Khurram in the Deccan in 1619.


19. Teacher with his Pupil, c. 1595-1600. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756). 




20. Seated Scholar, Border Fragment from the Teheran/Berlin album



21.Head of a Beauty, c. 1750. India, Mughal school, 18th century. Ink, color, and gold on paper




22. Page from Tales of a Parrot (Tuti-nama): text page, c. 1560. India, Mughal, Reign of Akbar, 16th century. Ink and gold on paper



22. Page from Tales of a Parrot (Tuti-nama): Forty-seventh night: The fourth man digs at the spot where he dropped the shell, expecting jewels, but discovering mere iron, c. 1560. India, Mughal, Reign of Akbar, 16th century. Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper



23. Portrait of Prince Murad Baksh, c. 1655. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756). Color and gold on paper.


23. A prince celebrating Holi with palace women on a terrace at night.


Images of pleasure and play abound in Mughal paintings of the latter half of the 1700s. Under a full moon reflected off a river and by the light of candles, a prince celebrates the spring festival of Holi with a group of palace women. Holi festivities include the boisterous tradition of smearing one another with colored powders—shown heaped on dishes—or shooting colored liquid using plunger guns. 

 24. Portrait of Raja Jagat Singh of Nurpur (reigned 1618-46)


Jagat Singh was a prince from a small kingdom in the western Himalayan foothills who grew up at the imperial Mughal court of Jahangir and his queen Nur Jahan. He was given the title of prince in 1619, and this painting may commemorate that event. Very few nobles from the hill states had positions at the Mughal court at this time, so his portrait is a rare imperial Mughal painting.

The emperor and his favorite wife frequently visited Nurpur, named “City of Light” in their honor, to hunt and relax, and Prince Jagat Singh was a favorite of the queen. She interceded on his behalf in 1624, when he joined a rebellion to dethrone her husband.


25. Posthumous portrait of Emperor Jahangir under a canopy


 Jahangir, the fourth Mughal emperor, was remembered for his greatness long after his death. Ruling from 1605 to 1627, he laid the foundations for long-term trade and diplomatic relations with various nations of Europe, most notably England and Portugal. He oversaw the transition of Mughal India into a global power during a time that can be considered the international Age of Exploration. This posthumous portrait depicts Jahangir amid the trappings of wealth and power with the light of divine sanction shining behind his head. A white marble railing demarcates his imperial space.


26. Husain Ali Khan Entertaining His Brothers (The Sayyid Brothers)


The shrewd imperial oligarch smoking the hookah and his brothers ran the Mughal government after the death of Emperor Alamgir in 1707 until the rise of Emperor Muhammad Shah in 1719. They were ruthless, self-serving kingmakers who caused the assassinations and accessions of six different members of the royal family to the Mughal throne in Delhi. The two attendants behind him exchange a worried glance, and the rare use of a flat gray sky behind the white marble terrace suggests the artist’s mood about the future strength and prosperity of the empire. 


27. Grotesque Dancers Performing 1600 AD.


This scene from an unidentified manuscript depicts entertainers at the Mughal court. The dancers appear to be from the fringes of society, and they may be intended to depict tribal people or semihuman nature spirits. One is dark skinned with small elephant ears and red-rimmed eyes, wearing a white tiger-skin pelt. The female dancer
wears a collar of leaves; the male figure on the right has horns, wears bells, and carries an animal-headed club that appears to be made of bone. An exuberant orchestra provides musical and vocal accompaniment below.

While not an imperial production, this painting may reference the Mughal emperor Akbar’s practice of welcoming a wide range of people from all regions and traditions to his court, since he was interested in understanding their customs.


28. A House Burgled at Night 1700 AD.


In this night scene a band of robbers have climbed over the walls of a Mughal house and, from a courtyard, are successfully carrying out the possessions of its owners while a lady flees through the door. The speed of her movement is expressed in the swinging motion of her diaphanous skirt and the scarf clutched in her hand, as well as by the shoes abandoned on the ground in her haste. This depiction of unruly behavior and its effects are perhaps an expression of the violent succession of emperors that threw the Mughal court into distress at the beginning of the 18th century. 

29. A princess on a terrace with attendants at night (recto)

Before a terrace pavilion in the women’s quarters of a palace, a royal woman stretches to show off her figure in accordance with age-old Indian poetic imagery. Female musicians provide entertainment, and attendants hold bottles of wine at the ready. Scenes of enjoyment in sumptuous domestic spaces pervaded the artistic repertoire of the imperial court and regional centers of northern India throughout the late 1700s, following the themes set by the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah.


30. A prince conversing with a woman while taking refreshments on a terrace 1710-1720 AD.


A princess pours liquor from a golden bottle into a tiny cup for a prince visiting the women’s quarters in a Mughal palace. The carpeted terrace overlooks a garden of flowering trees. The pair’s royal status is indicated by the attendants who hold the white cloth and peacock-feather whisks. Two other women bring jewels and a vial of perfume to be inspected and discussed by the royal connoisseurs. This is a setting where books, paintings, and poetry also would be enjoyed.


31. Kabir and Two Followers on a Terrace, c. 1610-1620. India, Mughal,


32. Babur receives booty and Humayun’s salute after the victory over Sultan Ibrahim in 1526, from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar) of Abu’l Fazl (Indian, 1551–1602)


The elegant figure of Babur wearing a pale yellow coat is shown seated on his newly won throne in Delhi just after the decisive battle against the Afghans in 1526. He looks directly at his son Humayun, who salutes him, having secured for the first Mughal emperor the allegiance and territories of a Hindu king to the south. Among the tribute presented to Babur on this occasion was the 793-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, now recut and set in Queen Elizabeth II’s crown. 


33. A night scene of Shiva puja1760-177 AD.


Hindu women had been prominent members of Mughal harems since the time of Akbar, whose chief queen was a Hindu princess from the kingdom of Amber (later renamed Jaipur) in present-day Rajasthan. Under golden stars and a crescent moon, this royal palace woman holds a flower garland to offer at a shrine to the Hindu god Shiva. The light of butter lamps casts a shadow behind her figure; experimentation with the depiction of shadows, typically absent in earlier Mughal painting, increased among artists during the 1700s.


34. Portrait of the Courtier Mirza Muizz 1680-1700 AD.



 35. Kamod Raga of the "Dipak Raga" Family, page from a Ragamala Series c. 1750



36. Portrait of Raja Ram Singh of Amber (r. 1667-1688) with a Deccan Sword


 The sensitive, naturalistic rendering of weariness and forbearance in the face belies the trappings of favor bestowed on Ram Singh by the Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Alamgir, whom he served as courtier and general between 1643 and 1688. He was a Hindu ruler from the kingdom of Amber in Rajasthan, under the control of the Mughal empire. Spending most of his life at the imperial court or leading military expeditions for the Mughals, this portrait was included in a Mughal album and inscribed with an Urdu verse indicating his value to the empire: "wherever he has led an expedition, victory is his." He wears a sumptuous coat of honor with a fur collar, woven with gold threads and floral sprigs and costly rubies, emeralds, and pearls. The straight sword with enameled hilt may be the one gifted to him by the emperor upon his succession to the throne as king of Amber in 1667. His long history of service at the imperial court, however, was checkered with troubles, including his allegiances with failed successors of Shah Jahan and the escape of the rebel Shivaji under his watch. 


 37. Radha and Krishna Caught in a Storm, c.1615-1620. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756)



38. Portrait of Emperor Jahangir Riding an Elephant, first half of the 18th century. India, Mughal Dynasty (1526-1756) 



39. Akbar and Jahangir Examine a Ghir Falcon while Prince Khusrau Stands Behind, c. 1602-1604. India, Mughal, early 17th century.


Emperor Akbar sits against a purple bolster under a canopy looking aged and careworn, probably not long before his death. He examines a trained falcon of the type that the Mughals used in hunting. This falcon appears to be from Akbar’s son, Prince Salim, who stands before him in a gesture of gift-giving. A stately black antelope, a wild animal now a pet, harnessed and wearing a bell, crouches at the foot of the steps leading up to the canopied platform. 

40. Rana Bhim Singh and Consort, c. 1810. Attributed to Chokha (Indian, 1770-1830). Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper.

 41. A Family of Tartars, c. 1885. India, Punjab, probably Lahore, Company School, 19th century.

42. Portrait of the Aged Akbar, c. 1640-1650. Attributed to Govardhan (Indian, active c.1596-1645)


The soulful modeling of Akbar’s aged but dignified face argues strongly in favor of the attribution of this work to the imperial court artist Govardhan. This posthumous portrait of the celebrated third Mughal emperor would have been made at the end of his career for Akbar’s grandson Shah Jahan, who reigned from 1626 to 1648. Shah Jahan aggrandizes his own august lineage by lionizing Akbar and having him portrayed in a formal, symbolic way that Akbar himself never would have commissioned.

Christian angels in European style praise him from the heavens, while mythical birds of paradise swoop at the edge of the effulgence emitted from the nimbus of the divine light of his rule. He originally grasped an orb, which was changed to a necklace. The sensitively articulated body of a young cow reclines at ease in the presence of a lion, indicating the harmony and peace of his noble rule. The artist used the dignified nim-qalam style of painted drawing with only touches of gold and hints of color. Heavy outlines were added at a later date, along with pinprick holes used for copying the composition onto another sheet of paper. 

43. A feast in a pavilion setting, c. 1620.

Two gentlemen sit on a low carpeted platform in a walled garden. They wear bulbous turbans meant to indicate a historical time or distant place other than Mughal India.
Behind them is the entry of a wealthy family’s house with one of the double doors open, leading to the inner quarters and a covered pavilion on the rooftop. The vestibule’s rear wall is ornamented with niches and wall paintings.

Emperor Jahangir admired Persian art and culture, employing Persian painters such as Muhammad Ali in his royal atelier. He enjoyed gatherings such as this, with books and music, wine and fruits.  


44. Maharaja Chattarsal of Kotah Shooting Lions, c. 1860

45.  Nur Jahan, holding a portrait of Emperor Jahangir, c. 1627 by Bishandas 

The empress Nur Jahan, Jahangir’s favorite wife, exercised influence in affairs of state. By all accounts, including those of Jahangir himself and European visitors to the Mughal court, she was a remarkable and brilliantly capable woman. This painting may have been made shortly after the death of Jahangir. He appears aged in his portrait, and it echoes a similar composition from another painting in which Jahangir holds a painted portrait of his deceased father, Akbar. 

46. A feast for Babur hosted by his half-brother Jahangir Mirza in Ghazni in May 1505, from a Babur-nama (Memoirs of Babur)

A feast for Babur hosted by his half-brother Jahangir Mirza in Ghazni in May 1505, from a Babur-nama (Memoirs of Babur), c. 1589; outer margins added c. mid-1900s. Basavana (Indian, active c. 1560–1600), and Madhav Khurd (Indian, active late 1500s). Opaque watercolor with gold on paper, double-sided: text on verso; page: 28 x 18.1 cm (11 x 7 1/8 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.300

Twenty-one years before his conquest of Delhi, Babur took control of territories in Afghanistan, including the cities of Kabul and Ghazni. His half-brother, who controlled the region around Ghazni, ordered that a party be thrown in honor of Babur’s arrival from the north. Drinking parties and feasts in lavish movable tent settings, where gifts were exchanged, alliances forged, and relationships cemented, were as important to the building of the empire as the battles.

47. Rana Sangram Singh Worshipping a Linga under a Banyan Tree, c. 1712-15. Northwestern India, Rajasthan, Rajput Kingdom of Mewar.

48. A Man Dips His Hand into a Cauldron as Ladies of the Harem Stand in Amazement: A Page from a Manuscript of Religious History, c. 1600. India, Mughal, early 17th century.

49. Lovers and an Old Crone, c. 1780 - 1790. India, Rajasthan, Kishangarh, 18th century.

50. Lover's Tryst, 1750-1800. India, Rajasthan, Bundi Style, later half 18th century.

51. The Lovelorn Heroine. page from a 'Sat Sai' of Bihari, 1780-1790. India, Pahari Hills, Garhwal school, 18th century.

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