Dhanraj (Mughal, active late 16th-early 17th century)
Timur receiving gifts at the house of Darogha of Balkh, ca. 1595-1600
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper 11 in. x 7 11/16 in. (28 cm x 19.6 cm)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase from the William P. & Edith E. Cleary Fund2009.17
Sharaf al-Din Yazdi wrote the 15th-century history of the Mughal ruler Timur (r. 1369–1405) entitled the Zafarnama (Book of Victory). Between 1595 and 1600, the atelier of the Mughal ruler Akbar produced a copy, of which at least fifteen pages have recently been identified. In this page, the Emperor Timur sits in a pavilion in Balkh (north Afghanistan) following his return from the conquest of Delhi. The village headman offers him gifts, as men carry in additional offerings from beyond the palace wall.
While multiple hands were involved in painting individual pages of historical works of the early 1590s, by the end of that decade, a single artist would design and paint a page. In this manuscript, the text has been moved to the top and bottom of the page rather than jutting into the painting as it had in earlier works; this allowed the artist to develop a more complex space. In the 17th century, the pages of the manuscript were cut out of their folios and remounted, possibly with the intention of adding paintings in the margins.
The artist Dhanraj, although not prolific, is known to have painted imperial works from the 1580s into the first decade of the 17th century. In this work, he renders the complexity of the palace and its royalty in detail, with Timur the focus of attention as a youth fans him and another proffers food and drink. The artist extends the view into the distance, adding a tomb, farmer, horse, and a variety of trees that suggest bucolic country life.