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The Court of the Great Mughal at Lahore , 1729

Mirza Firuz Shah
Muhammad Shah 1720–1748

The Court of the Great Mughal at Lahore , 1729



The seventeenth century was a period of instability and financial difficulty for the British monarchy, but in South Asia a dynasty of emperors now known as the Mughals celebrated a glorious Golden Age. Many of the South Asian paintings and manuscripts in the Royal Collection date to this period when the Mughal Empire, richer and stronger than any European power, encompassed much of the Indian subcontinent. The rulers of Britain, a small island on the edge of Europe, had scant knowledge of the splendour of this early modern superstate. Few paintings of South Asia reached Europe during this time, and Westerners could only visualise its glories through fantastical-looking prints and drawings based on descriptions made by travellers returned from the East. For English merchants and adventurers of the late sixteenth century, the subcontinent was primarily a source of spices and textiles, from cheap cotton to the finest silks, which were now increasingly in demand throughout Europe. But this was a fiercely competitive environment where Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch traders already operated. In 1600, with a view to ensuring English merchants played a stronger role in this lucrative commercial contest, Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603), the last Tudor monarch and contemporary of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (r. 1556–1605) (see cat. nos 1–12), granted a group of 125 shareholders a monopoly on all English trade to Asia. Through this royal charter, the East India Company was born.


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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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