Emperor Aurangzeb

Equestrian portrait of
Emperor Aurangzeb (1618, r.1658-1707)

by Kishangarh court artist
circa 1660 CE

Khakha or drawing on paper
16.9 x 12.8 in. (43 x 32 cm.)

This tinted drawing of Emperor Aurangzeb portrays him as a young warrior riding a rearing horse. The portrait was possibly done in the early phase of his reign when a few artists from his father Shah Jahan’s atelier were still managing the fine quality.

Versions of finished paintings of this subject can be seen in a number of collections including Johnson album 3 in the British Library, but this appears to be the study on which all the finished paintings are based.

The scattered use of gold shines outstandingly against the uncoloured background. Golden highlights of the javelin, turban, sash, and the nimbus are strategically chosen to enhance Aurangzeb’s character as an emperor who chose to spend most of his life battling and campaigning.