Allegorical representation of Emperor Jahangir and Shah Abbas of Persia from the St. Petersburg Album
ca. 1618; margins 1747–48
Abu'l Hasan b. 1588 or 1589)
Reign of Jahangir
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver and gold on paper
H: 23.8 W: 15.4 cm
This brilliantly executed painting from the St. Petersburg album is one of several allegorical representations of Jahangir by Abu'l Hasan, one of the finest painters of the imperial atelier.
The radiant and powerful Jahangir is depicted comforting his meek, submissive cousin, Shah Abbas of Iran. This has nothing to do with historical fact, however, and is pure wish-fulfillment on Jahangir's part. The rulers were intense rivals, the focus of their mutual antagonism centering on Qandahar, in Afghanistan, a territory and fortress under Mughal control.
In 1739 Nadir Shah of Iran attacked the Mughal capital at Delhi, seizing many of the best Mughal paintings and manuscript illustrations. These were mounted into albums prepared and decorated by the leading Persian artists of the day and eventually formed the compilation known today as the St. Petersburg album.
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