“Sultan Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur with courtiers.” Painting attributed to Abd al-Hamid Naqqash, alias the Bombay Painter
India, Deccan, Bijapur; c.1660
Leaf:18.6 × 16.8 cm
Miniature: 17.7 × 16.8 cm
Ali Adil Shah II was the 8th and penultimate sultan of Bijapur. Ali’s reign was characterized by internal revolts and threats from the Mughal empire to the north. After his death, the situation worsened, and in 1686, Bijapur was conquered by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who dethroned Ali’s son and successor, Sikandar Adil Shah.
Despite the increasing unrest, it was nonetheless a golden age for Bijapur painting, in which the joys of life at court were depicted in relaxed and lively scenes that were in sharp contrast to the formal painting style of the Mughals.
This painting of the water-pipe smoking and comfortably sprawled Sultan Ali is, however, not only a typical example of the informal Bijapur style. It is also one of the absolute masterpieces of the period. The Bombay Painter, as its creator is often called, was famed for his pronounced but refined faces with discrete smiles and raised eyebrows that give the scene psychological depth. He moreover had a unique ability to reproduce both colors and folds in luxurious textiles, so that one senses their splendor and lightness.
Inv. no. 2/2020