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A PORTRAIT OF PRINCE BIDAR BAKHT
MUGHAL INDIA, CIRCA 1675
Gouache heightened with gold on paper, the nimbate Bidar Baksh Shahzadeh stands wearing elegant white robes decorated with green leafy sprays, a gold embroidered sash and yellow boots, a khanjar is tucked into his sash and he leans on a long sword, laid down between blue borders on wide buff margins, identification inscription in devanagari in the upper margin, verso with nasta'liq quatrain on gold illuminated ground, panels of illumination in two corners, laid down between minor borders of geometric strapwork and calligraphic panels alternated with panels of gold and polychrome illumination, on wide light blue borders, later owner's stamp in one corner, areas of scuffing
Miniature 8 7/8 x 5 1/8in. (22.1 x 13.1cm.); folio 13 7/8 x 9 3/8in. (35.2 x 24cm.)

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Andrew Butler-Wheelhouse
Andrew Butler-Wheelhouse

Lot Essay

An identifying inscription above in devanagri reads tasvir bidar bask shah zadah, portrait of Prince Bidar 'Bask'.
This portrait is of the eldest son of Azam Shah who was third son of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb(r. 1658-1707). The large green nimbus surrounded in gold is typical of Royal depictions of Mughal portraiture. The Prince is shown in a regal manner holding an ornamental sword and with a jade hilted dagger. Prince Bidar Bakht served his grandfather in Deccani campaigns. After the death of Auragzeb there was a power struggle in which Prince Bidar Bakht and his father Azem Shah were defeated by the new ruler Muhammad Mu'azzam who became Bahadur Shah I (r.1707-1712).
A very similar miniature in the LACMA collection (inv. M.74.123.5), but lacking the nimbus, depicting the second son of Aurangzeb, Muhammad Muazzam is dated to circa 1675, (Pradtapaditya Pal, Indian Painting, Los Angeles, 1993, no.81, p.286). The depiction of Muhammad Muazzam has an identifying inscription in both Devanagri and in Arabic script. Dr. Pal, when commenting on the quality of the LACMA miniature, suggested that it was probably painted by an artist from the Imperial atelier, which is also probably also true in the case of our miniature, (Pal, op.cit, p. 286).

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