Emperor Akbar II (r.1806-37) holds court, complete with a British officer

Source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/search/LotDetail.asp?sid=&intObjectID=3052353&SE=CMWCAT02+542+1837964422+&QR=M+1+210+Aqc0000900+523++Aqc0000900+&entry=india&SU=1&RQ=True&AN=211
(downloaded Oct. 2001)

"AN UNUSUAL CARVED IVORY GROUP. Mughal Delhi, early 19th century. Depicting the seated emperor Akbar II (r.1806-1837) enthroned holding the stem of a hookah, an attendant at each side, faced by a bowing supplicant with a further attendant at one side and an official of the East India Company at the other, all on a raised square velvet covered platform with pierced balustrade, two attendant figures standing flanking the entrance, velvet covered stand, one attendant figure sword damaged. 8 5/8in. (22.1cm.) wide.

*The Delhi Darbar of Akbar II, by Ghulam Murtaza Khan, c.1813*

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(downloaded Sept. 2005)

"DELHI DARBAR OF AKBAR II. Signed Ghulam Murtaza Khan, Delhi, dated Muharram AH 1228/January 1813 AD
Gouache and gold on paper, the nimbate Akbar II in embroidered robes sits on the Peacock Throne under an elaborate canopy decorated with floral sprays and nesting peacocks, with six attendants all in various coloured garments and headdresses, some unshod, on a red carpet over an elaborate white ground carpet with polychrome arabesques, the scene arranged upon a parapet with a white balustrade in the background, signed and dated, pasted onto board, mounted, framed and glazed. 16½ x 12½in. (42.3 x 31cm.).

Although the Mughal Empire was disintegrating, the early 19th century was a high point in the production of quality painting. The level of portraiture and detail are exceedingly fine-- the faces depicted with subtle shading and highly individualistic features-- the light beards, rounded chins and the sunken cheeks of the old emissary at right, give to these paintings a compelling intimacy. The warm clothing, turbans, and fur-lined headdresses worn by the participants suggest that the scene takes place during the winter. The anxious expressions on the faces of the principal figures seem at odds with the glittering sophistication and decadence of the court. But together they poignantly evoke the waning Mughal era. This painting is one of the few signed by Ghulam Murtaza Khan, although based on stylistic comparison several of the others are attributable to him. Here the Emperor is shown with his courtiers and emissaries, although in other versions he is shown with a variety of other characters."

Akbar II holding court, in a more conventional representation, c.1820; *lot notes*; also: *another version* (BL)

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(downloaded Aug. 2004)

"The Delhi Darbar of Akbar II (r. 1806-1837). India, Mughal, Delhi School, 19th Century. Painted on ivory, depicting Akbar II seated upon a peacock throne within a golden pavilion surrounded by courtiers including his sons the future Bahadur Shah and Mizra Jahangir, and attended by the British Resident, Sir David Ochterlony in a tricorn hat; with ivory frame carved in deep relief depicting vignettes of Hindu deities including: Rama and Sita, Vishnu, Hanuman, Shiva, Saraswati, Brahma, and Parvati with Ganesha interspersed with scrollwork. Image: 14 5/8 x 10 7/8 in. (37.1 x 27.7 cm.); with ivory frame: 18¼ x 14½ in. (46.4 x 36.8 cm.).

Lot Notes: The scene depicted likely took place in 1820 under the tenure of Sir David Ochterlony (1758-1825), who served as the British Resident from 1818-22. Compare to other darbar scenes depicted in E. Smart and D. Walker, Pride of the Princes: Indian Art of the Mughal Era in the Cincinnati Art Museum, 1985, cat. no. 19.; T. Falk and M. Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, 1981, no.227i; and one sold at Christie's New York, 21 March 2001, lot 203. Some of the earlier darbar paintings are attributable to the court master painter, Ghulam Murtaza Khan with further copies ensuing. L. Leach suggests in Mughal and other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library, Vol. II, p. 812, that the varying copies were made as court souvenirs and possibly produced by several commercial workshops. Despite the waning power of the Mughals, Leach also notes that this grouping of dignitaries, painted from a Mughal perspective, depicts Ochterlony as a 'compliant and even passive subject of Akbar Shah'. op. cit, p. 812."

*The Delhi Darbar of Akbar II by Ghulam Murtaza Khan, c.1820*; *lot notes*

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(downloaded Sept. 2005)

"DELHI DARBAR OF AKBAR II. Attributable to Gulam Murtaza Khan, Delhi School, circa 1820. Gouache and gold on paper, the nimbate Akbar II in embroidered robes sits on the Peacock Throne under an elaborate canopy decorated with floral sprays and nesting peacocks, with his four sons in jewelled gold or silver headdresses and fine boots, and with five other attendants all in various headdresses, some unshod, some standing on the red carpet, the scene arranged upon a parapet with a white balustrade in the background, arranged upon a parapet with a white balustrade in the background, silver oxidized, slight flaking and minimal retouching in places, pasted onto board, mounted, framed and glazed. Miniature 15 3/8 x 12¼in. (39.2 x 31.3cm.).

Lot Notes:  Many features of this compare closely with the 1813 painting, although in the present painting Akbar II is also attended by his sons. Inscriptions in the other related paintings allow the identification of the princes from left to right: Abu Zafar Siraj al-Din (heir apparent Bahadur Shah II), Mirza Salim, Mirza Jahangir, and Mirza Bahadur. Although not all of the darbar paintings were by the hand of Ghulam Murtaza Khan, based on the India Office Library painting, and on the previous lot, it seems reasonable to attribute this painting to him."

Akbar II in all his glory, in formal procession, c.1827-30

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(downloaded May 2005)

"THE MUGHAL EMPEROR AKBAR II (R.1806-1837) IN PROCESSION WITH HIS SONS, THE RESIDENT AND AN ESCORT OF SKINNER'S HORSE, DELHI SCHOOL, INDIA, CIRCA 1827-1830; gouache heightened with gold on three paper sections, each framed individually, depicting a durbar scene

CATALOGUE NOTE: This representation of a durbar procession is one of the foremost of a genre popular in the early nineteenth century. Being simultaneously remarkably detailed and energetic, this painting epitomises the portrayal of such processions.

You could also wear a memento of such a procession, in a broach

Source: http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lfsearch/LotDescription.aspx?intObjectId=4893890
(downloaded Mar. 2007)

Of oval form on a gold ground, the rubies closed set, gems set amongst a scrolling vine of gold filigree encircling a miniature painting heightenend with gold leaf depicting the procession of His Majesty Akbar II (r.1806-37), surrounded by various troops, nobles and standard bearers, hook and eye clasp - 1 7/8in. (5cm.) diam

Lot Notes: Such processions usually took place during an 'Id, for example at the end of Ramadan. Although the British took control of Delhi in 1803, the Emperor continued to take precedence at state occasions until the 1840s."

*The Darbar of Akbar II, Jaipur or Delhi School, c.1850*

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(downloaded Sept. 2005)

"DARBAR OF AKBAR II, Jaipur or Delhi School, circa 1850. Gouache heightened with gold on paper, the nimbate Akbar II in embroidered gold coat sits enthroned, attended by his four sons and four emissaries, all in various brightly coloured garments, some wearing jewelled and stippled gold headresses and finely decorated boots, with a striking background drawn in perspective of a red sandstone hypostyle with opening onto spacious palace courtyard beyond, mounted on card with thin gold, black and orange border, in modern mount, slight flaking around edges, otherwise in very good condition. Miniature 12 x 16in. (30.5 x 40.3cm.); folio 13 x 17¼in. (33 x 43cm.).

Lot Notes:  This unusual scene combines the familiar grouping of the Emperor Akbar II with his sons and attendants, though he is seated not on the Peacock Throne in Delhi, with the background of a grand palace courtyard depicted with a plunging sense of perspective."


The crowded yet ordered scene breathes life into the traditional celebration of one of the festivals of Eid, when a procession such as this would have paraded through the imperial city of Delhi. Each charmingly rendered vignette provides a new activity for scrutiny: leading the procession are elephants and camel riders firing into the air; then come another troupe of elephants, their riders bearing various standards and emblems of the realm, including a gold sun, an umbrella or chatra, a flag emblazoned with a rayed sun, Fatima's hand, two golden fish suspended from a bow atop a pole, two fish heads and a monster. After this come two elephants in confrontation with a cageful of doves released above, beyond these are the royal trumpeters announcing the arrival of the emperor behind them. Akbar II sits in regal splendour in a golden howdah, fanned by a servant with a fly-whisk; the heir-apparent is also carried by an elephant, whilst the younger brothers ride in a European carriage. The British follow, with the Resident at Delhi, Edward Colebrooke (resident 1827-1830) upon an elephant, beyond which ride either Captain John Sutherland or Captain George R. Clerk, his first assistant and commander. The Imperial troops escorting the women's veiled howdahs follow, whilst Skinner's horse bring up the rear.

This scene, whilst aesthetically pleasing, is also a commentary on contemporary politics at a time when the power of the Mughal emperor was on the wane, and that of the colonial British on the rise. From the turn of the century until the 1840s the British controlled the city of Delhi, yet continued to pay formal tribute to an emperor whose aegis extended only within the walls of the Red Fort. The secondary involvement of the British in the pageantry and royal processions of the day, as depicted here, suggests a sensitivity to appearances on behalf of the Colony and contradicts the genuine hierarchy of command.

Called Sikander Sahib, Colonel James Skinner the commander of the horse embodies this Anglo-Indian culture. Born of a mixed British and Indian heritage, Skinner's mother was a princess of the Rajput and his father the Scottish son of the Provost of Montros; he was raised in India. Preferring the Mughal way of life, Skinner kept a harem of Indian women, both Muslim and Hindu, and favoured his formal Muslim title. Nominally, however, he was Christian and brought his children up as such. Skinner's renown lay in his skill on the battlefield, and his cavalry were instrumental in the British subjugation of India. The horsemen under his leadership never lost a battle, and the epithet 'Sikander' is a tribute to his talents in its allusion to the legendary Alexander the Great."