Shah Jahan and Dara Shikoh

Rembrandtabout 1656–1661

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn made twenty-five "Indian drawings," based on miniatures from the Mughal Empire that he saw in a Dutch collection and presumably studied over a long period. Adopting some aspects of the extremely precise manner of these miniatures--so unlike his usual loose, evocative style of draftsmanship--Rembrandt nonetheless enlivened the figures' poses by giving them more sense of action than did the Mughal style. Despite their looseness, his lines present the figures in the three-quarter body and profile head view common in Indian painting.
A contemporary of Rembrandt known for his building campaigns and as a patron of art, the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan is recognizable from his characteristic dress and face--and the aureole, which distinguished portrayals of Mughal rulers beginning with his father's reign. This depiction resembles the many portraits in the illustrated history that Shah Jahan commissioned of his reign. In characteristic Mughal fashion, he rather stiffly faces his eldest and most beloved son, Dara Shikoh. The falcon represents the popular courtly sport of hunting, often depicted in Mughal art.

Art + Ideas Podcast: Stephanie Schrader on Rembrandt and India


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