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A Mughal painting of a ‘Lion at rest’

North India, early 19th century

Watercolour on paper, H. 46.5 x W. 68 cm

The present painting is a large copy after the famous miniature painting (20.3 x 15.2 cm) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York. This ‘Lion at rest’ is an early work by Ustad Mansur (act. 1590-16230), an important miniature painter of animals and birds in the period of Emperor Akbar’s (1565-1605) and Emperor Jahhangir’s (1605-1624) reign. Emperor Jahangir is known to have commissioned his favourite artist Mansur to realistically portray the flora and animal world throughout his empire.

The lion hunt was a Royal Pursuit also known as Shikar. It’s a metaphor of imperial authority and demonstration of the martial prowess of the Emperor during periods of peace, equating the practice of the Royal Hunt to that of a battle.

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