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An album of portraits

Early seventeenth century (with later additions)

In Mughal thought, physical appearance was considered a direct reflection of character. It was believed that one could better understand someone’s nature by examining their portrait.

The earliest portraits in this album look similar to those created in Timurid Iran and Central Asia. The figures kneel on a carpet surrounded by objects which reveal certain personal qualities or attributes. By the end of the sixteenth century there was a shift in Mughal painting towards more subtle, naturalistic portraiture in which the figure is depicted standing in profile or three-quarter profile.