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Farrukh Beg. Akbar's Triumphal Entry into Surat. Akbarnama, 1590-95, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

April 26, 2023
Mirza Firuz Shah
Akbar 1556–1605



This Illustration to the Akbarnama (Book of Akbar) depicts the Mughal emperor Akbar (r.1556–1605) riding on a black horse through Surat in western India after taking the city in 1573.

The painting is the work of Farrokh Beg, named in the contemporary inscription in the lower border. This Iranian artist entered Akbar's service in 1585 when he arrived at court from Kabul. He was solely responsible for both the composition and the painted details of this illustration, unlike the other paintings in the V&A Akbarnama which are the work of two, or sometimes three artists. The inscriptions on the building behind Akbar, in white on deep blue, testify to Farrokh Beg's skill as a calligrapher.

He continued in royal service under Akbar's son and successor, Jahangir, who inscribed several paintings with the comment that they were the work of Farrokh Beg 'in his 70th year'.

One of these is in the V&A (IM.10-1925). The Akbarnama was commissioned by Akbar as the official chronicle of his reign. It was written in Persian by his court historian and biographer, Abu’l Fazl, between 1590 and 1596, and the V&A’s partial copy of the manuscript is thought to have been illustrated between about 1592 and 1595.

This is thought to be the earliest illustrated version of the text, and drew upon the expertise of some of the best royal artists of the time. Many of these are listed by Abu’l Fazl in the third volume of the text, the A’in-i Akbari, and some of these names appear in the V&A illustrations, written in red ink beneath the pictures, showing that this was a royal copy made for Akbar himself. After his death, the manuscript remained in the library of his son Jahangir, from whom it was inherited by Shah Jahan.

The V&A purchased the manuscript in 1896 from Frances Clarke, the widow of Major General John Clarke, who bought it in India while serving as Commissioner of Oudh between 1858 and 1862.

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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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