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Watercolour painting sparsely coloured on paper, of the top of Shah Jahan’s cenotaph at the Taj Mahal. The painting shows the white marble top of the cenotaph that is placed in the centre of the Taj Mahal, next to the cenotaph of Arjumand Banu Begum. It is decorated with pietra dura inlay using precious and semi-precious stones to create an elaborate floral pattern split into two panels. To the left of the painting is a square panel with a central medallion of flowers and radiating rays which creates an sunburst (shamsa), a solar symbol which was a common feature of imagery during Shah Jahan’s reign. Surrounding this are interlaced scrolling vines and flowers. On the second panel are elaborate flowers growing out of scrolling vines surrounding a rectangular design of repeating floral patterns – this rectangle represents a pen case, which indicates that the occupant is male. The two panels are surrounded by a floral border of scrolling flowers and vines. The painting is framed by a thick black line.
- Production date
Height: 21.70 centimetres
Width: 29 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- See 1945,1013,0.9.14 for a detail of the floral design on top of Shah Jahan’s cenotaph.
This painting comes from an album of watercolour paintings and pen and ink drawings of North Indian architectural subjects (1945,1013,0.9.1-33). These include the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra. Albums such as this were commonly made during the early 19th century, typically for European visitors in India. Comparable albums are in the collections of the British Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Taj Mahal was built between 1631 and 1643 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r.1628-58) as a mausoleum for his wife Arjumand Banu Begum, also known by the title Mumtaz Mahal.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
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