Skip Navigation

Portraits of Two Scribes Seated with Books and Writing Table Amid Gold Flowers, Section of a Margin of a Royal Album Page

Asian Art

These exquisitely painted figures once appeared on the margins of a painting in an album made for the emperor Shah Jahan (the ruler who built the Taj Mahal). Illuminated borders were frequently used in royal albums, where they served to frame and protect a wide array of cherished paintings and calligraphies. The two seated men in this margin are either scribes or librarians: the man on the left with an open book in front of him is reciting to the man seated in the center. At the far right is a low desk with a cup, pens, and decorated manuscript pages. We do not know the location of the painting that this margin once framed. Perhaps it was damaged and only this element could be salvaged, or perhaps it was taken apart and sold in several pieces.
MEDIUM Watercolor and gold on paper
  • Place Made: India
  • DATES ca. 1640-1650
    DYNASTY Mughal
    DIMENSIONS 2 x 9 5/8in. (5.1 x 24.4cm) Other: 14 1/4 x 19 1/4in. (36.2 x 48.9cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 86.227.153
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.