Portrait of Shah 'Abbas hawking

Mughal India, late AD 1600s

This portrait shows Shah 'Abbas I (15711629) of Iran. His head is wreathed in a halo as he stands in the foreground before a landscape.

Shah 'Abbas was the fifth shah of the Safavid Dynasty and ruled Iran for 42 years. In this time he quelled a civil war, built a new capital (Isfahan), established trade and land policies that stimulated the economy and oversaw a renaissance in arts and architecture. His defeat of Iran’s Uzbek enemies and signing of a peace treaty with the Ottomans helped established the country’s largest empire for 1000 years.

Although portraits of Shah 'Abbas ceased to be popular in Iran in the 1700s after the fall of the Safavid dynasty, his name remained untarnished in India. When this work was painted, Mughal India was politically and militarily weak, but its artists glorified the past by portraying the early Mughal sultans and other renowned monarchs, such as Shah 'Abbas.

Portraits of Shah 'Abbas alone or with Khan 'Alam, the ambassador of Mughal India, entered this pool of images of bygone rulers that were so popular in the late 1600s and 1700s in India.

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Height: 45.85 cm  (page)
Width: 31.80 cm  (page)

Museum number

ME 1920,0917,0.44


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