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Portrait of Benedict de Goes

Mirza Firuz Shah
Akbar 1556–1605

Portrait of Benedict de Goes



Portrait of Benedict de Goes (European) . Europeans first came to the Mughal empire in the late 1570s. By the early 1600s, there was regular contact between the Mughal court and Portuguese Goa, and merchants and adventurers came overland or by sea from Europe. A few of them took up residence at court. Their presence led to the occasional appearance of European figures in Mughal paintings or on the border decoration of manuscripts. This painting, which on stylistic grounds dates to about 1610, is unlikely to be a contemporary portrait of a 17th-century European visitor to the Mughal court Akbar was intrigued by the exotic merchant-adventurers from the west. He first encountered them at Cambay in 1572. A year later, during the Siege of Surat, a large party of Christians came for an audience with him and was asked to guarantee the safety from pirates of Muslim pilgrims to Arabia. In 1576, Akbar met two Jesuit priests in Bengal with whom he discussed religion, one of his favorite topics. He tried unsuccessfully to learn more about Christianity a year later, from the commandant of the port at Hugli, a Portuguese trading canter in Bengal. In the next year, another such encounter proved unrewarding, and in 1579, he requested that missionaries be sent to court from Goa, the Portuguese center on the West coast. In 1580, Lathers Aquaviva, Monserrate, and Henriques came to Fatehpur Sikri “to convert the inhabitants of Mogor.” Abu’) Fazl, author of the Akbarnama, was asked by Akbar to translate the Gospels. No copy has survived, if indeed the project was completed. Although Akbar is said to have kissed the image of Christ, and Christian paintings were made by Mughal artists at this time, the Jesuits commented that “giving the pearl of the Gospels to the King was exposing them to be trampled and trodden underfoot.” In 1590 and 1594, further missions were sent from Goa to the Mughal court. Brother Benedict de Goes remained in Lahore until 1615. Although the Jesuits never completely gave up hope of converting Akbar, and later Jahangir, Jesuits were not allowed to visit Akbar when he was on his deathbed. This portrait of Benedict de Goes (European) was probably based upon imported prints as well as direct observation. The Christian ladies at worship resemble Hindus bowing before a Sivaite image, and their shrine recalls contemporary Hindu architecture. To Read More Visit This Book Link Mughal Library

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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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