Babur and Humayun with Courtiers, from the Late Shah Jahan Album

Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Shah Jahan, ca. 1640
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper mounted on board
H x W (overall): 37 x 25.3 cm (14 9/16 x 9 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Detached manuscript folio

angel, courtier, deer, emperor, Henri Vever collection, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), Reign of Shah Jahan (1628 - 1658)

From at least 1910
Georges Demotte (1877-1923), Paris, from at least 1910 [1]

To 1942
Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France, to 1942 [2]

From 1942 to 1986
Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France [3]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France [4]


[1] The object is documented as having appeared in the collection of Georges Demotte by at least January 1910. See Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 410.

[2] See Glenn D. Lowry et al., An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), pp. 278, 281, no. 332.

[3] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Henri Vever 1854-1942
Georges Demotte 1877-1923
Francois Mautin 1907 - 2003


The first Mughal emperor, Babur, who reigned from 1526 to 1530, is shown seated on the right with his son and successor, Humayun. Ousted from his brief control of Ferghana, and eastern territory of Iran, Babur swept down on northern India at a time of political weakness there to establish the beginnings of a great empire.

Such posthumous family portraits were painted to recall the glory of the first Mughal emperors and to assert a ruler's direct line of succession to the throne from Babur. In this case, the patron of the painting is Babur's great-great-grandson Shahjahan. In the border decoration there attendants bear, respectively, a standard, a sword in a fabric sheath, and a shield, all of which are attributes of royal power. A pair of angels above the emperors' heads provides a divine aura.

Published References
  • I.N. Khan Arshi. Black Taj Mahal: The Emperor's Missing Tomb. New Delhi. .
  • Rene Grousset. The Civilizations of the East. 4 vols., New York and London, 1931-1934. vol. 2: p. 309, fig. 194.
  • Philippe Bruguière. A 17th century vina: Reflection of Mughal splendor (Une vina du XVIIe siècle: Reflet de la splendeur moghole). Paris, France, 2022. p. 30-31.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 21C, pp. 114-5.
  • Carter Findley. The Turks in World History. Oxford. p. 131.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Susan Nemanzee. A Jeweler's Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 51, pp. 166-167.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 332, pp. 278, 281.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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