Aiz-ud-din Alamgir II seated under canopy

Aiz-ud-din Alamgir II (1699 – 1759) seated under canopy, holding flowers

by Mughal Delhi artist
dated 1853-54

Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
Folio: 16.75 x 12 in. (42.5 x 30 cm.)

Alamgir II son of Jahandar Shah was the Mughal emperor between 1754 and 1759. When he ascended the throne he was an old man of 55 years. He had no experience of administration and warfare as he had spent most of his life in jail. He was a weak ruler, with all power vested in the hand of his Vazir Imad-ul-Mulk, who deposed Ahmed Shah Bahadur and raised him to the throne.

Imad-ul-Mulk was clearly a man of no principles and was commonly criticized for his extreme selfishness. He put all the imperial revenues into his own pocket and starved Alamgir II’s family. He had collaborated with the Marathas and together they dominated the whole of northern India. This was the peak of the Maratha expansion, which caused great trouble for the Mughal Empire, which had already become weak with no strong ruler. He was murdered by Imad-ul-Mulk with the help of a Maratha leader. Alamgir II’s son Ali Gauhar escaped persecution from Delhi, while Shah Jahan III was placed on the throne.

In this portrait, the Emperor Alamgir II is kneeling on a hexagonal golden throne studded with emeralds, rubies and diamonds. He is wearing a pink Jama with flower patterns and a fur collar. He has a rose flower in both the hands. An arch type canopy and the parasol above the throne make for a beautiful composition.