Alife-size portrait of Mughal Emperor
Jahangir, one of the largest known Mughal painting, fetched an
auction record Rs 10 crore (1.4 million pounds) in London on
The 17th century portrait painted in gold and watercolour on white
canvas and portraying Jahangir seated on a gold decorated throne
holding a globe, wearing elaborate robes and jewellery went under
the hammer at the Bonhams Indian and Islamic Sale.
"This is one of the rarest and most desirable 17th century paintings
ever to come to auction. There is no other work of its kind known
and its importance cannot be underestimated," said Alice Bailey,
Head of Indian and Islamic Art at Bonhams.
The artwork has been bought by a museum in the Midde East. "The
extraordinary detail and complexity of the painting both fascinate
and bewitch the viewer. We are honoured to have sold it," said
It is believed that the portrait dated AH 1026/AD 1617 and painted
by the artist Abul Hasan was executed while Jehangir was in Mandu in
Previously shown in the National Portrait Gallery in London in an
exhibition on the Indian Portrait in 2010, the Emperor is shown
decked in elaborate robes and jewellery seated on a gold
European-style decorated throne holding a globe.
The picture is a political tour de force in which the Emperor lays
claim to a world-wide ambition. This is achieved through its full
life-size magnificence, use of precious items in its creation, and
the words that accompany it, all make his all conquering ambition
There is a circular pendant around the Emperor's neck set with mica,
with jade and glass vessels at his side and carpet under his feet.
nother important item in the sale was an inscribed Mughal emerald
personal seal set in a diamond encrusted gold bangle and bearing the
name of Major Alexander Hannay, an East India Company officer. It
sold for 90,000 pounds well above its pre-sale estimate of 40,000 to
The rectangular 18th century emerald is table-cut and was mounted in
an enamelled gold bangle with a Persian inscription in the early
19th century. Major Alexander Hannay was in the service of the East
India Company under William Hastings at the time when the company
had transferred its trading role into a more military administrative
In 1778, Hannay left Hastings' service and entered that of the Nawab
of Oudh. He managed the district of Gorakhpur, when during this
period there were a number of disturbances as a result of his
suspected oppression and misconduct. The bangle has passed down
through the family to the present owner.
Alice Bailey at Bonhams said, "This is a particularly fine example
of an inscribed Mughal gem whose history and known provenance adds
to its interest. The glorious Victorian setting is in particularly
appropriate and sympathetic to the long-standing Mughal tradition of
combining gems and hz2."
The rulers of Mughal India often ordered their names and titles to
be inscribed on rubies, emeralds and diamonds, a practice which
originated in Iran under the Timurids (1370- 1507).
Some of these gems ended up in the collection of the Mughal emperors
who continued the tradition.