top of page

Portrait of Raja Ram Singh of Amber (r. 1667-1688) with a Deccan Sword (recto); Calligraphy (verso)

June 30, 1658
Aurangzeb 1658–1707




Portrait of Raja Ram Singh of Amber (r. 1667-1688) with a Deccan Sword (recto); Calligraphy (verso) c. 1680-1685 Part of a set. See all set records India, Mughal court, 17th century Opaque watercolor on paper Page: 30.4 x 18.5 cm (11 15/16 x 7 5/16 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 2013.330 DESCRIPTION The sensitive, naturalistic rendering of weariness and forbearance in the face belies the trappings of favor bestowed on Ram Singh by the Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Alamgir, whom he served as courtier and general between 1643 and 1688. He was a Hindu ruler from the kingdom of Amber in Rajasthan, under the control of the Mughal empire. Spending most of his life at the imperial court or leading military expeditions for the Mughals, this portrait was included in a Mughal album and inscribed with an Urdu verse indicating his value to the empire: "wherever he has led an expedition, victory is his." He wears a sumptuous coat of honor with a fur collar, woven with gold threads and floral sprigs and costly rubies, emeralds, and pearls. The straight sword with enameled hilt may be the one gifted to him by the emperor upon his succession to the throne as king of Amber in 1667. His long history of service at the imperial court, however, was checkered with troubles, including his allegiances with failed successors of Shah Jahan and the escape of the rebel Shivaji under his watch. INSCRIPTION verso: Deccani Urdu (Karnati) lyrics in nasta‘liq script: “Bhairava” has a camphor-like fair complexion with [young] moon on the forehead and three eyes and with the crown of the matted locks over which the Ganges sparkles. In the one hand he has a human skull, and in the other a trident. His vehicle is a bull, and his body is white (besmeared with ashes). He has the skin of an elephant and of a lion on his back and carries ornaments provided by snakes and sits under the shade of the heavenly wish-fulfilling tree [kalpavriksha]. A white beautiful woman is playing upon a drum [mridanga] at a place beyond Kailash mountains. These, says Ibrahim, are the features of the most charming and excellent Raga Bhairava. (after Kitab-i Nauras Ahmad 1956, 98–99, 130) PROVENANCE ?-September 1967 (Maggs Brothers, London, UK, Bulletin No. 12, September 1967, no. 11, sold to Ralph Benkaim) September 1967-2013 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. Mentioned and Reproduced: cat. no. 66, p. 246 Branfoot, Crispin, ed. Portraiture in South Asia Since the Mughals: Art, Representation and History. London; New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2018. Reproduced: pl. 11 EXHIBITION HISTORY Art of the Indian Subcontinent from Los Angeles Collections. University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA (March 4-31, 1968). Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 245). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (July 2, 2014-January 5, 2015).

Rate This BookDon’t love itNot greatGoodGreatLove itRate This Book

Your content has been submitted

Post Comment
Ratings & Review
Click To Close Comment Box
Click To Post Your Comment
Show Reviews

Ismail Mazari

average rating is null out of 5

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.

Mughal Library brings readers of our history and related subjects on one platform. our goal is to share knowledge between researchers and students in a friendly environment.


bottom of page