Bust Portrait of the Young Dārā Shikoh
Leaf from the Read Mughal Album, probably by Hāshim
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911
Dārā Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shāh Jahān, was born in 1615. Since here he appears to be in his late teens, this portrait was probably painted in the early 1630s. The extremely fine facial depiction has been attributed to the painter Hāshim, but the background, marble window frame, halo, and elaborate border were added during the second half of the eighteenth century, when the album was assembled. The page, numbered 36, originally faced the portrait of Hakīm Mu˒mina (see MS M.458.5) in the Read Mughal album. The numeration, however, is in Western style, going from front to back.
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.