Lot 215
  • 215

A double-sided album page with two Akbari miniatures: a landscape scene with a Mughal prince hunting, and verso with a prince visiting an ascetic, Mughal, circa 1590

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • paper, painted
gouache heightened with gold on stout paper, outer margins in colours, one miniature showing a prince hunting with his dogs and attendants rushing beside him on foot, the verso with a prince and attendants visiting an ascetic at a hermitage in a rural landscape


From a collection brought to Europe by the mid-nineteenth century and acquired by a European collector. Paper folder in which the miniatures were kept labelled Dessins Indiens and inscribed in pencil: Il manque 4 dessins pretes a Mr. Waschmut, peintre a Versailles, le 10 1843. This is the painter Ferdinand Waschmut (1802-69) who studied under Baron Gros in Paris, exhibited at the Salon between 1833 and 1859, and is known to have travelled to North Africa.


In generally good condition, some flaking and rubbing, light staining and one worm hole confined to later margins as well as some foxing, colours strong and bright, as viewed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Please note that colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact by Sotheby's. We do not guarantee, and are not responsible for any certificate from a gemological laboratory that may accompany the property. We do not guarantee that watches are in working order. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue, in particular to the Notice regarding the treatment and condition of gemstones and to the Notice regarding import of Burmese jadeite and rubies into the US.

Catalogue Note

Both scenes from this Akbari miniature represent a genre that enjoyed a great deal of popularity in Mughal manuscript production: the hunt and the ascetic.

The hunt scene was produced at a prolific rate under both Akbar (r.1556-1605) and Jahangir (r.1605-27) and even by the 1590s a standard format had been established as it is seen here. The land slopes up towards the top right-hand corner of the painting, a town nestles amongst the trees; a large rocky outcrop dominates the far left with a large tree at its base, and a river rushes through the miniature with a tree growing on its bank. The hunters sweep across the middle ground chasing leaping deer, ibex and other woodland creatures. The miniature may be formulaic but it is also full of vigour, and it provides an interesting glimpse of the types of arms used during the hunt, here we see the whole gamut of an armoury in use with bow and arrow, dagger, shot gun and swords on display. Whilst the sword is not immediately visible, it is worthy of note that the prince's attendant carries his red cloth-covered sword case in one arm as he runs through the landscape (see Goswamy and Fischer, 1987, cat.51, p.112 for a comparable example).

The topic of a prince and ascetic has ever been popular, with the Mughal emperors from Akbar onwards often represented deep in conversation with mystics and sages. This was partly due to a desire to consolidate their right to rule through theological means, and partly through a sincere fascination with faith and spirituality. Akbar was often represented encountering a dervish whilst out hunting (see Canby 1998, figs.80, p.110), and commissioned paintings of other princely figures in exchange with hermits (see Canby 1998, fig.81, p.111).

These princely activities suggest, in the absence of any text, that their original purpose was to illustrate a Mughal historical text of the nature of the Baburnameh or Akbarnameh. The quality and style of these miniatures accords with Mughal work towards the end of the sixteenth century. Comparisons can be made with various manuscripts and groups of paintings painted in similar style, particularly the Ramayana of 1587-98 made for Akbar's military commander-in-chief Abd al-Rahim Khan Khanan (Freer Gallery), the Razmnama of 1598 (British Library and dispersed), and the 'Manley' Ragamala of circa 1600 (British Museum).