A portrait of a Rajput nobleman, attributed to the Mughal master Manohar, mounted on a royal album page Mughal, circa 1610-20
Lot 261
A portrait of a Rajput nobleman, attributed to the Mughal master Manohar, mounted on a royal album page
Mughal, circa 1610-20
£ 8,000 - 12,000
US$ 11,000 - 17,000

Lot Details
A portrait of a Rajput nobleman, attributed to the Mughal master Manohar, mounted on a royal album page Mughal, circa 1610-20
A portrait of a Rajput nobleman, attributed to the Mughal master Manohar, mounted on a royal album page
Mughal, circa 1610-20
gouache and gold on paper, the nobleman facing left, wearing a red turban with a gold trim and a white muslin jama over floral pantaloons, a sword hanging from his floral patka, green background with flowers at his feet, laid down on a contemporary royal album page with finely decorated borders with intertwining floral motifs in gold on a dark blue ground, inscription amal-e Manuhar in nasta'liq at lower left, verso with various inscriptions and seal impressions, unframed
painting 112 x 68 mm.; page 218 x 158 mm.


  • Manohar was the son of Basawan, one of the most celebrated artists at Akbar's Mughal court. Basawan was held in considerable esteem and probably took charge of the Mughal studio following Daswant's death in 1585. Indeed Abu'l Fazl, Akbar's trusted adviser and biographer, in the A'in-i Akbari (a supplement to the Akbarnama, 1596-98), records Basawan's exceptional gifts as an artist, making particular mention of portraiture.

    These gifts were clearly inherited by his son Manohar, born in the 1560s, who proved to be an outstanding pupil and contributed to many of the major Mughal albums and manuscripts commissioned from the 1580s over the next four decades. By the 1590s Manohar had moved on from his father's influence developing a mature style of his own. His illustrations to the Rampur Diwan of Hafiz, circa 1585, and the British Library Babur-nama, circa 1591, reflect this and are distinctive from that of Basawan. Manohar also found a patron in Akbar's second son Prince Murad (1570-1599), an ambitious military commander who died of alcoholism before the age of thirty. A portrait attributed to Manohar of two lovers, circa 1597, formerly in the collection of F. R. Martin, depicts a fine study not only of Prince Murad but also of his consort, the daughter of Aziz Koka, whom he married in 1587.

    It was an easy transition for Manohar to continue working at the Mughal court for Akbar's heir, the emperor Jahangir (reg. 1605-1627) and indeed he was so valued by the emperor that he accompanied him on an expedition to Ajmer, Mandu and Ahmedabad in 1613-1618. It may well have been on this expedition that Manohar painted this particular portrait of this Rajput nobleman. It was also on this expedition that a portrait by Manohar of Jahangir was signed and dated by the emperor with the place of its painting and presented as a gift to the English ambassador Sir Thomas Roe. Manohar also contributed three important portraits commissioned by Jahangir, now in the Kevorkian album, now in The Metropolitan Museum in New York, maintaining his reputation as one of the most important portrait painters in the Mughal atelier until his death in the 1620s.

    For further discussion on Manohar see:

    M. C. Beach (with a contribution by G. D. Lowry), The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India 1600-1660, Williamstown, Mass., 1978.
    A. K. Das, Mughal Painting during Jahangir's Time, Calcutta 1978, pp. 188-192, pls. 11, 27, 30b, 34, 42, 45-47, 51 & 53.
    M. C. Beach, The Imperial Image, Washington, D.C. 1981.
    S. C. Welch, A. Schimmel and M. L. Swietochowski, The Emperors' Album: Images of Mughal India, 1987, nos. 16, 18 & 24.

    Two portraits depicting Prince Murad and Prince Daniyal (1572-1602) and another of a courtier, both with attributions to Manohar, were formerly in the collection of A.C. Ardeshir. See Important Oriental Miniatures and a Mughal Manuscript, Sotheby's, 10th July 1973, lots 12 and 31. For a portrait by Basawan and a portrait of a Rajput nobleman identified in Jahangir's hand, see R. Crill and K. Jariwala, The Indian Portrait, London 2012, nos. 12 and 16.

    The particularly fine border depicting floral illumination in gold on a blue ground clearly indicates that the portrait is mounted on a 17th Century royal Mughal album page.

    On the reverse:

    Seal impression of Yamin al-Dawla 'Ali [...], an official of Ahmad Shah Bahadur dated first regnal year, AH 1062/AD 1748.

    One note (beginning trimmed): 'from the royal palace'

    Another note, partially unclear, mentions 'the household furniture/dressing room' of Bakhshi Baygum Sahiba and is dated AH 1288/AD 1871.

    A 19th Century oval seal impression with the name Najm al-Din Ahmad Bahadur, probably a librarian.

Saleroom notices

  • This lot has been withdrawn.
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  1. Matthew Thomas
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