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I'timad-ud-Daula's Tomb at Agra

A work made of watercolor on paper watermarked j. whatman with pencil, pen, ink and gold.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of watercolor on paper watermarked j. whatman with pencil, pen, ink and gold.


c. 1820



About this artwork

This architectural rendering of a magnificent tomb at Agra provides an accurate depiction of the pietra dura inlays and carved marble jali screens of the mausoleum built by the Mughal empress Nur Jahan in honor of her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg, who rose to become the prime minister under the emperor Jahangir (r. 1605–27) and held the exalted title I’timad-ud-Daula (Pillar of the Empire). The powerful Nur Jahan had immense financial resources at her disposal. Built between 1622 and 1628 and modest in size, as befitted the mausoleum of a nobleman rather than an emperor, the structure is lavish in its use of semiprecious stones, and the workmanship and design are of unsurpassed quality. In its exclusive use of white marble, it antedates the Taj Mahal and is considered by many to be the finer monument.

This drawing was created in the Company style, named after the British East India Company, which spearheaded English mercantile and political interests in the subcontinent from the early seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. The British were eager to record and catalogue everything they saw. In the absence of photography, first British and later Indian artists, who excelled in drawing and painting fine details, recorded the sights. The style arose in the later part of the eighteenth century and ended in the mid-nineteenth with the beginning of photography. In addition to architectural drawings, other subjects included animal and botanical studies, occupations and trades, regional dress, festivals, and scenes of village life.


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Arts of Asia


I'timad-ud-Daula's Tomb at Agra


India (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1815–1825


Watercolor on paper watermarked J. Whatman with pencil, pen, ink and gold


51 × 74 cm (21 1/8 × 29 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Friends of Indian and Islamic Art of The Art Institute of Chicago

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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