A Youth Reading, from the Nasiruddin Shah Album

Artist: Muhammad Ali
Historical period(s)
Reign of Jahangir, ca. 1610
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque color, ink and gold on paper
H x W: 33.3 x 21 cm (13 1/8 x 8 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf with painting

falcon, India, landscape, naskh script, reading, Reign of Jahangir (1605 - 1627)
Provenance research underway.

A flower-strewn meadow and delicately swaying shrubs provide the setting for a contemplative youth. In contrast to the painting's lively composition, borders display restrained symmetry.

The image of a young man reading in a highly abstracted and idealized garden setting was popular in seventeenth-century Iran and was adopted by artists working in the Islamic courts of India. The painting's lush vegetation and intense colors are typical of the aesthetic associated with the Deccan court of Bijapur, where the artist Muhammad Ali probably began his career. The inscription, however, reveals that he created this image for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reigned 1605-27). The superb floral borders indicate that the painting was bound into an album during the reign of Jahangir's son, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-58).

Published References
  • Keelan Overton. The Visual World of Muslim India: The Art, Culture and Society of the Deccan in the Early Modern Era. Library of South Asian history and culture, vol. 2 London. fig. 10.6.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Paintings of the Sultans and Emperors of India in American Collections. Lalit Kala Series of Indian Art New Delhi. pl. 9.
  • Capolavori nei secoli: Enciclopedia di tutte i popoli in tutti i tempi. 12 vols., Milan, 1961 - 1964. vol. 3: p. 204.
  • Francesco Abbate. Arte dell'Inde e dell'Indonesia. Milan. pl. 66.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 28, pp. 93, 200-201.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 23, p. 141.
  • Masters of Indian Painting. Exh. cat. Zurich. pp. 279-290, fig. 3.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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