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Shah Jahan, His Three Sons, and Asaf Khan
  • Accession Number:AKM124
  • Place:Probably Agra, India (Historic Hindustan)
  • Dimensions:35.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Date:ca.1628
  • Materials and Technique:Opaque watercolour, ink, and gold on paper

During the time of Emperor Jahangir, Moghul painting reflected his deep interest in realism, especially in portraiture and in the depiction of natural phenomena such as landscapes. This work, signed by the painter Manohar (active circa 1582–1624), depicts the Moghul emperor sitting on a royal dais with his three sons standing beside him. The figures are portrayed in the typical Moghul portraiture pose with the face in profile and the body in a frontal three-quarter position. The bejewelled and opulently dressed men in this painting, however, are not Jahangir and his sons but rather Jahangir’s son, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–57), and his grandsons. In their quest to legitimize their rule, Moghul emperors saw no harm in taking over pre-existing works of art, as if to place themselves in a more glorious historical past. In this case, new faces with physical features attributed to Shah Jahan, his sons, and his father-in-law, Asaf Khan, replace those of Jahangir, the original patron, and his sons.

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