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Watson and the Shark John Singleton Copley
Image Details
Watson and the Shark (46.310) — John Singleton Copley

The Private World of India’s Mughal Emperors:

Saturday, August 23, 2008 – Sunday, November 16, 2008

  • For Everyone

Albums of Painting and Calligraphy from the Chester Beatty Library

This exhibition features 86 outstanding miniature paintings, calligraphic examples and albums from the libraries of the Great Mughals of India: Akbar (r.1556–1605), Jahangir (r. 1605–1627) and Shah Jahan (r. 1628–1666). The central theme of the exhibition is the collection of diverse materials into albums for the Mughal imperial library. These albums served as sources of enjoyment and entertainment within the private sphere of the Mughal court, but also as channels for propaganda and the consolidation of a public image of kingship. Artists painted compositions of actual events at court, portraits of the ruler, courtiers and holy men, exotic animals and illustrations of literary and historical texts. 

As patrons, the Mughal emperors encouraged artists to closely observe flora, fauna and human models. These mainly Hindu painters not only drew upon their own capacities to produce likenesses from nature, but also upon Persian and Hindu painting traditions and conventions, and the European prints that circulated at the Mughal court. It was the extraordinary, experimental synthesis of these diverse sources that gives Mughal painting a particular and compelling beauty. Spectacular examples include paintings from the Salim Album (compiled 1590–1605), the Minto Album (compiled 1620–45) and the Late Shah Jahan Album (compiled 1650–57).

The exhibition is drawn from the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, which houses world-renown collections of manuscripts and miniature paintings gathered by the American mining consultant Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875–1968). The exhibition is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia.

This exhibition is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, VA. The original exhibition title and catalogue title is Muraqqa': Imperial Mughal Albums from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.  

Support for the national tour and catalogue has been provided by The Annenberg Foundation, Culture Ireland, The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

In Detroit, this exhibition is sponsored by Padma and Raj Vattikuti and the Vattikuti Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.

Image Caption:
Jahangir Wearing a Tie-dyed Patka
A painting from an unidentified album
c. 1620
colored pigments and gold on paper


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