This painting appears to be directly inspired by the illustrations of the Akbarnama or Book of Akbar. A renowned and lavishly illustrated copy of the official chronicle of Akbar’s reign is now held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It was written by his court historian and biographer Abu'l Fazl between 1590 and 1596 and is thought to have been illustrated between circa 1592 and 1594 by at least forty-nine different artists from Akbar's studio.
The intricate geometric green tile-work found on our painting, composed of six-pointed stars and hexagons, is identical to that found on a painting from the Akbarnama depicting Akbar receiving Bahram Khan’s son, Abd al-Rahman (IS.2:7-1986; Gian Carlo Calza (ed.), Akbar, The Great Emperor of India, exhibition catalogue, Milan, 2012, fig.9, p.27). In both paintings, the emperor sits on a hexagonal throne before which a blue carpet with floral arabesques is laid. This carpet is on a raised platform accessed through three steps. The courtyard is walled with red columns, arcades and pavilions which are reminiscent of Akbar’s capital at Fatehpur Sikri - the Mughal capital between 1571 and 1585. The similarity between the two paintings is no coincidence and the artist who painted this work was well-aware of the style developed by the imperial atelier.
Another painting of Akbar receiving gifts is in the National Museum, Delhi, and offers another close comparable example to our work. It is dated circa 1590 (inv. 51.69/11; Akbar, The Great Emperor of India, op.cit., cat.I.4, p.93). In both works, Akbar is shown seated on a throne amongst courtiers whilst a prince petitions him, illustrating his subordination. The particular colour palette and the relative simplicity of composition (less elaborate than in the Akbarnama work) are similar in these two paintings, suggesting that they were executed at the same time, circa 1590.