Mughal Emperor Akbar


Mughal Emperor Akbar

Paintings / Other Asia

By the Bikaner school

Place of production:India

18th century

Opaque watercolor and gold on paper


A genre of art called “miniature painting” developed in India. These miniature paintings make use of elaborate brushwork and vibrant colors to depict a variety of themes, including Indian myths, Hindu gods such as Shiva and Vishnu, portraits of kings, historical episodes, and love stories. This genre includes a wide range of styles that differ by region, partly because various cultural groups coexisted in India.

This miniature painting shows Akbar, the third emperor of the Mughal Empire, whose name is inscribed above. The Mughal Empire ruled the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the early 18th centuries. During his rule from 1556 to 1605, Akbar expanded the empire his grandfather Babur had founded to encompass northern and northwestern India.

Small narrow eyes are a common feature in all of Akbar’s portraits. He also has a round halo behind his head, outlined in gold with green in the middle. Depicting the emperor in this way, like a god or Buddha, was probably meant to represent his imperial authority.

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