Painting

Akbar Receives the Iranian Ambassador Sayyid Beg in 1562

ca. 1586 - ca. 1589 (made)

La'l

Height: 31.1 cm, Width: 19.2 cm

IS.2:28-1896 SSEA

Painting, Akbarnama, Akbar receives Iranian ambassador Sayyid Beg, outline by La'l, painting by Ibrahim Kahar, opaque watercolour and gold on paper, Mughal, ca. 1586-1589

Painting, in opaque watercolour and gold on paper, left half of a double picture, the right being IS.2:27-1896: it depicts Akbar receiving Sayyid Beg, the ambassador from Iran.

This is the left half of a double page designed by the Mughal court artist La’l and painted by Ibrahim Kahar for the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar). It illustrates the arrival of the Iranian ambassador, Sayyid Beg, in 1562 at the royal court in Agra of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605). This page depicts the entourage of the ambassador bearing the gifts sent by Shah Tahmasp of Iran. The companion page (Museum no. IS.2:27-1896) depicts Akbar enthroned, receiving the ambassador. The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written in Persian by his court historian and biographer, Abu’l Fazl, between 1590 and 1596, and the V&A’s partial copy of the manuscript is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1595. This is thought to be the earliest illustrated version of the text, and drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal artists of the time. Many of these are listed by Abu’l Fazl in the third volume of the text, the A’in-i Akbari, and some of these names appear in the V&A illustrations, written in red ink beneath the pictures, showing that this was a royal copy made for Akbar himself. After his death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son Jahangir, from whom it was inherited by Shah Jahan. The V&A purchased the manuscript in 1896 from Frances Clarke, the widow of Major General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

The Akbarnama was commissioned by the emperor Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. This was written by Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between ca.1592 and 1594 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio. After Akbar's death in 1605, the manuscript remained in the library of his son, Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) and later Shah Jahan (r. 1628-1658). The Museum purchased it in 1896 from Frances Clarke the widow of Major General Clarke, an official who had been the Commissioner in Oudh province between 1858 and 1862. Historical significance: It is thought to be the first illustrated copy of the Akbarnama. It drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal painters of the time, many of whom receive special mention by Abu'l Fazl in the A'in-i-Akbari. The inscriptions in red ink on the bottom of the paintings name the artists.

Location: In Storage

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