Bust Portrait of Hakīm Mu˒mina
Leaf from the Read Mughal Album
ca. 1620, with border of ca. 1750–1800
416 x 300 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911
Although such small portraits ended up in albums, they probably served as artist's models for larger works. Although the portrait head is a Mughal work of about 1620, it became part of the Read Mughal album in the second half of the eighteenth century, when the portrait was extended to become a bust, and the black background, halo, and elaborate borders were added. Mu˒mina, who served as the Mughal emperor Jahāngīr's physician, is shown at a jharoka (audience window). His European-style hat—popular in India—is embroidered with a lion battling a dragon. The page is numbered 35.
The Read Mughal Album
Pierpont Morgan purchased the Read Mughal album, along with a Persian album, from Sir Charles Hercules Read, Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities at the British Museum, in 1911. The Morgan purchase consisted of thirty folios (including both Indian miniatures and the Mughal portraits presented here), but Read owned at least forty-eight others, now widely dispersed. The leaves were probably once bound in several lacquered bindings. The identity of their compiler has not been established, but many borders date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The Mughal emperors of India commissioned biographies and were frequently portrayed by artists. Here the paintings are presented in the order of the emperor's reigns rather than the dates of the miniatures, starting with Bābur (r. 1526–30), the Muslim founder of the dynasty, and ending with Shāh Jahān (r. 1628–58), builder of the Taj Mahal.