Skip to Content

Open today 10–11 a.m. members | 11 a.m.–6 p.m. public. Learn more.

The Young Emperor Akbar Arrests the Insolent Shah Abu’l-Maali, page from a manuscript of the Akbarnama

A work made of opaque watercolor and gold on paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of opaque watercolor and gold on paper.

Date:

c. 1590/95

Artist:

India
Designed by Basawan, painted by Shankar

About this artwork

This is a page from the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar), a lavishly illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) to document the history of his rule. The scene depicts the emperor at age thirteen, three days after his accession. Seated on a gold throne placed on a carpeted platform, Akbar watches as his late father’s favorite is arrested for his insolent behavior toward the young emperor. The setting—a tented encampment pitched in a garden—is significant, for Akbar spent much of his reign on the move. Through his active campaigning and strong administrative skills, he greatly expanded the Mughal Empire, consolidating and securing it for his successors. In addition, he was a great patron of the arts, initiating a new style of painting and establishing a vast atelier and library.

One of the new themes the emperor encouraged was the painting of historical manuscripts such as the Akbarnama. Commissioned in 1589, it was written by court historian and biographer Abu’l Fazl between 1590 and 1596. Simultaneously, a workshop of about fifty artists illustrated the text. Basawan, the designer of this painting, whose signature appears in the lower margin in red, was one of the studio’s leading painters. He was particularly skilled in portraiture and is known to have painted the faces of the young emperor and the two other figures in front of him: the regent Bairam Khan, who is standing, and the disgraced Shah Abu’l-Ma’ali, who crouches in a red robe. He also painted some of the nearby scenery, which attracted his interest; each painting was collaborative work and could take up to a month to complete.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of Asia

Artist

Basawan (Designer)

Title

The Young Emperor Akbar Arrests the Insolent Shah Abu’l-Maali, page from a manuscript of the Akbarnama

Origin

India

Date

1585–1595

Medium

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper

Dimensions

Image: 32 × 19.3 cm (12 5/8 × 7 9/16 in.); Outermost border: 33 × 19.6 cm (13 × 7 11/16 in.); Page: 34.4 × 20 cm (13 1/2 × 7 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number

1919.898

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.

Learn more.

https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/76816/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

Share

Explore Further

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share