This inscription at the bottom of the miniature is a Persian prayer in the form of a quatrain. It reads:
jahanat be-kam va falak yar bad
jaha[n] afarinet negahdar bad
be-kam-e to bada hame-ye kar-e to
khudavand-e giti negahdar bad
'May the world be your fortune and the heavens be a friend
May the creator of the world protect you
May all your actions achieve your goals
May the Lord of the World protect [you]'
This is followed by the signature banda-ye dargah 'amal-e balchand, 'the slave of the court, the work of Balchand'. Balchand is known to sign his works in this manner. See for example, the miniature of the 'The Death of Inayat Khan' (Ellen Smart, Artibus Asiae, vol.58, no, 1999, pp.273-274).
The court artist Balchand had a long career spanning from the end of Akbar's reign into that of Shah Jahan. Of his three royal patrons, the majority of his years were spent working for Jahangir but few of his paintings are preserved from this era. The brother of the artist Payag, Balchand's career began with him painting stylised figures and ended in complex naturalistic crowd scenes, such as those that illustrate Shah Jahan's biography, the Padshahnama. Between these periods his production fluctuated between the more stylised and the naturalistic. This royal portrait demonstrates aspects of the two styles.
Leach writes that in Balchand's best works, amongst which this undoubtedly numbers, the 'superficial prettiness' which accompany most of his drawings 'deepens to a lyricism and a gentle evocation of mood' (Linda York Leach, Mughal and Other Indian Paintings, vol. I, London, 1995, p.1099). With the lion standing to the Emperor's right, this work exhibits the lyricism to which Leach refers. It is certainly a portrait of power.
Another portrait of Jahangir by Balchand, from an unidentified album (just possibly the Nasir al-Din Shah Album on the basis of the remains of a dark blue border), is in the Chester Beatty Library. Stylistically that miniature and ours are very similar indeed in the depictions of Jahangir. Both must have been produced after 1614, for it was on the twelfth of Shahrivar (August 26th) of that year that Jahangir's ears were pierced as recorded in the Jahangirnama.
The frame that surrounds this miniature is contemporaneous with it. The work is comparable with a fine lacquer cabinet in the Ashmolean Museum which is dated by Digby to the early 17th century (Simon Digby, 'The mother-of-pearl overlaid furniture of Gujarat; the holdings of the Victoria and Albert Museum', Facets of Indian Art, ed. Robert Skelton et. al, London, 1986, fig.11, p.220). That too has polychrome decoration with horsemen hunting in a leafy landscape. Another lacquer box decorated with European-style scenes though with a similar red ground and foliage, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum and is again dated to the early 17th century (Amin Jaffer, Luxury Goods from India. The Art of the Indian Cabinet-Maker, London, 2002, no.6, p.25-26). It is possible that our frame was mounted up from panels of what was once a box.