Mar 4, 2014
Mar 4, 2014
Mar 4, 2014
Sep 9, 2015

A Mughal courtier

A Mughal courtier

c. 1575; border added probably 1700s

Mughal India, court of Akbar

(reigned 1556–1605)

Gum tempera and gold on paper, mounted with gold-sprinkled borders

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 2013.294


This sensitive portrait is among the earliest surviving individual portraits from the Mughal atelier. He remains unidentified by inscription, since such portraits were made for the emperor Akbar who was unable to read. Realism in portraiture developed under Akbar as a means of keeping records of gifts and promotions without written notations. The figure conspicuously grasps the maroon and gold scarf in his left hand, which suggests that it may have been the gift from the emperor that would have occasioned the portrait. The array of blades he carries indicates that he was conscripted into military service at the Mughal court.

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