A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'
A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'
A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'
A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'
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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more THE PROPERTY OF A LADY (LOTS 9 - 13) A PREVIOUSLY UNRECORDED PAGE FROM THE LATE SHAH JAHAN ALBUM
A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'

THE PORTRAIT CIRCA 1645-50; THE BORDERS, CIRCA 1650-58, INDIA; THE CALLIGRAPHY SIGNED (MIR) 'ALI AL-KATIB, SAFAVID IRAN, CIRCA 1530-50

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A MUGHAL PRINCE, PROBABLY SHAH SHUJA'
THE PORTRAIT CIRCA 1645-50; THE BORDERS, CIRCA 1650-58, INDIA; THE CALLIGRAPHY SIGNED (MIR) 'ALI AL-KATIB, SAFAVID IRAN, CIRCA 1530-50
Opaque pigments and gold on paper, facing right, wearing a white diaphanous jama over red trousers and white shirt, the pink and gold turban bejewelled with pearls and an emerald, wearing necklaces, rings, bracelets and a bazuband to his arm, each of his hands resting on his sword and katar, standing on a grassy ground, red and gold clouds above, the portrait laid down between finely illuminated floral garlands, the wide borders with three Mughal youth figures, each richly dressed, the bottom edge with two figures seated around a gilded chest inspecting jewellery, various birds flying among gold Chinese clouds at top; the reverse with a fine nasta'liq quatrain, each line in clouds on finely illuminated gold ground, signed in the bottom left corner, laid down between gold floral garlands, the borders with vibrant floral sprays
Portrait 8 5/8 x 5in. (21.9 x 12.6cm.); page 15 x 10 3/8in. (38.1 x 26.4cm.)
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Romain Pingannaud
Romain Pingannaud

Lot Essay

This intact page from the Late Shah Jahan Album appears to be unrecorded. The sitter is very probably Shah Shuja', Shah Jahan's second son with Mumtaz Mahal. The jewels that adorn the standing figure clearly demonstrate that he is from the royal household. A page of the Padshanama painted by Murar shows Shah Shuja' in his twenties (Milo Cleveland Beach and Ebba Koch, King of the World, The Padshahma, London, 1997, pl.44, pp.106-107). He stands directly to the right of Shah Jahan and although younger than on the present painting, he shows the same profile and curl of hair at the bottom of the ear. The borders of this page, painted with young pages bearing ceremonial fan and chowry confirm again that our sitter is a royal figure. Shah Shuja' was born in 1616 and this portrait was probably executed circa 1645-50, showing him in his early to mid thirties. Another Late Shah Jahan Album portrait of Shah Shuja', part of the Pozzi Collection, was sold in Paris, 1970, lot 22.

Based on the examination of the borders, it is very tempting to suggest that the present page was facing the portrait of Shah Jahan which is now in the Los Angeles Museum of Art (Cleveland Beach, The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, Williamstown, 1978, cat.23). The double page would have been conceived as a single visual unit, Shah Jahan looking left at his son Shah Shuja', himself looking right to his father. The standing figures in the borders converse with each other - the figures carrying the ceremonial fan are in the top corners, birds adorn the upper margin whilst the lower margin is decorated with two men inspecting jewellery, a gilded chest between them. The borders often show men associated with the central figure and Shah Jahan's taste for jewels being well recorded it is no surprise that an inspection of the royal treasury is painted in the margin.

The calligraphy on the reverse is signed by the Safavid master Mir 'Ali who composed all but one of the calligraphic panels of the album (Ehnbom D. J., Indian Miniatures. The Ehrenfeld Collection, New York, 1985). Mir 'Ali Haravi (d.1556) is one of the most influential of all the practitioners in this highly respected art of calligraphy. With Sultan 'Ali Mashhadi, he is credited with having invented nasta'liq script (Schimmel, Annemarie: Calligraphy and Islamic Culture, New York and London, 1984, p.36). The works of leading Persian calligraphers were particularly prized at the Mughal court.

The so-called 'Late Shah Jahan Album' was compiled during the last decade of Shah Jahan's reign, between 1650 and 1658. It was dispersed in Paris about 1909. Traditionally it is thought to have been part of the loot from Delhi taken in 1739 by Nader Shah. In the late 19th century it was taken to Russia by a brother of Nasir al-Din Shah, the Qajar ruler of Iran and sold to an Armenian dealer who brought it to Paris and sold it to Georges Demotte. Milo Cleveland Beach notes in 1978 that only a third of the original album is now accounted for (op.cit., cat.23). For a detailed discussion of the album, see Elaine Wright, Muraqqa', Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Alexandria, 2008, pp.106-139.


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