A re-creation of the Mughal emperor Akbar II receiving a European officer
India (ca. 1840)
Opaque watercolor and gold
The San Diego Museum of Art
The Asia Society says:
In this painting, Akbar Shah, seated on a palanquin, is approached by a European officer in the grounds of the Delhi palace. Behind him, his son Mirza Jahangir rides on horseback. The imperial procession is made up of Akbar Shah’s coterie of ministers, attendants, and footmen carrying spears. The mood is animated, as some of the men seem to be engaged in conversation about the officer who, dressed in a black top hat and coat, is looking up at the emperor with folded hands. While it is possible that the bespectacled European is Archibald Seton, the second Resident at the Mughal court, the style of his civil attire and the treatment of the landscape suggest that this painting was executed in the period after the death of Mirza Jahangir in 1821. The subject of this painting may be Seton communicating the Company’s refusal to recognize the dashing Mirza Jahangir as imperial heir (depicted at the right side of the painting and raised to the same level as his father, the Emperor).