W.865, Single leaf of a nilgai
This painting of a nilgai (also called a blue bull or Boselaphus tragocamelus), which is an antelope indigenous to Asia, is attributable to the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (r. 1037-1068 AH / 1627-1658 CE). Such animal studies were popular commissions among the Mughal emperors, who showed a marked curiosity about the natural world in their royal histories. Patronage of paintings of flora, fauna, and animals received a particular impetus under the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1014-1037 AH / 1605-27 CE) and was continued under later Mughals. The detailed foliage in the foreground and the light green background are comparable to other studies of single animals dating to c. 1049 AH / 1640 CE.
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