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Akbar supervising the capture of wild elephants at Malwa in 1564, painting 90 from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar) of Abu’l Fazl (Indian 1551–1602)

June 30, 1556
Animals and Plants
Akbar 1556–1605




Akbar supervising the capture of wild elephants at Malwa in 1564, painting 90 from an Akbar-nama (Book of Akbar) of Abu’l Fazl (Indian 1551–1602) c. 1602–3; borders added c. 1700s Part of a set. See all set records attributed to Farukh Chela (Indian) or Govardhan (Indian, active c.1596-1645) or Dhanraj (Indian) Mughal India Ink with use of colors and gold on paper, mounted on an album page with borders of gold-decorated buff and blue paper (recto); calligraphy by Faqir Ali (verso) Page: 37.5 x 25.4 cm (14 3/4 x 10 in.) Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.309 DID YOU KNOW? A yak-tail flywhisk, ancient Indian symbol of sovereignty, is held up for Akbar. DESCRIPTION This painting is from a biography of Akbar made shortly before his death. It depicts a historical event from early in his reign when he encountered a herd of wild elephants and captured many of them for his royal stables. Akbar rides horseback in the upper left, directing his men as two trained elephants give chase in the foreground. The Mughals caught wild elephants by chasing them with tame elephants, then tethering them together and feeding them their favorite food. European prints had made their way into Akbar’s collection, and they provided the visual source for distant cityscapes, rolling hills, and less densely colored paintings. INSCRIPTION recto: Folio 229, painting 97 from the so-called Chester Beatty Akbarnama verso: calligraphy in nast'aliq script by Faqir Ali INSCRIPTION Verso: From a ghazal of Badr al-Din Hilali Jaghata’i (Persian, active c. 1500) c. 1550; borders added c. 1700s and mounted upside down Faqir Ali (Persian, active c. 1550–1610) Probably Safavid Calligraphy, Persian verses in nasta‘liq script: He is Venerable! I am the dust on the path of the messenger to my beloved’s hallowed sanctuary; Perchance I may reach the destination in his footsteps. On the burn in my branded heart, do not place any soothing balm, So that the comfort that I draw from my pain and sorrow for my beloved does not abate. PROVENANCE before 1962 Hagop Kevorkian [1872–1962], New York, NY December 1, 1969 (Sotheby’s, London, Highly Important Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures: The Property of Kevorkian Foundation, 1 December 1969, lot 120, sold to Ralph Benkaim) 1969-2013 Ralph Benkaim [1914-2001] and Catherine Glynn Benkaim [b. 1946], Beverly Hills, CA, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art 2013- The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH CITATIONS Mace, Sonya Rhie, Mohsen Ashtiany, Catherine Glynn, Pedro Moura Carvalho, Marcus Fraser, and Ruby Lal. Mughal Paintings: Art and Stories: the Cleveland Museum of Art. London: D Giles Limited, 2016. cat. no. 23, pp. 171-173

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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