The Passing of Shah Jahan (1902) by Abanindranath Tagore

The Passing of Shah Jahan - Abanindranath Tagore - 1902

Artwork Information

TitleThe Passing of Shah Jahan
ArtistAbanindranath Tagore

About The Passing of Shah Jahan

The artwork titled “The Passing of Shah Jahan” is a significant historical painting by the renowned artist Abanindranath Tagore, created in the year 1902. A poignant portrayal of one of India’s most famous Mughal emperors in his final moments, this work is emblematic of Tagore’s contribution to the art movement that sought to revive the classic Indian traditions of painting.

In the artwork, Shah Jahan is depicted in a moment of vulnerability and introspection; he is seen lying on a large patterned cushion with a heavy blanket over his body. The emperor is supported in the arms of a figure that appears to be his daughter, Jahanara Begum, who cared for him during his imprisonment by his son, Aurangzeb. The setting is an interior space with elegant Mughal architecture, suggesting a room with a view of the Taj Mahal through the arches—the mausoleum that Shah Jahan built in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The composition employs a subdued color palette and delicate detailing, characteristics of traditional Indian miniatures. Despite the minimal use of color, the artist has meticulously rendered the filigree work on the arches, the architectural patterns, and even the distant Taj Mahal, creating a serene yet somber atmosphere. The two central figures form a poignant focal point, with their solemn expressions and intimate postures conveying a deep sense of loss and the end of an era.

This masterpiece thus encapsulates the themes of mortality, legacy, and the poignant end of an influential reign, while also demonstrating Tagore’s mastery in blending historical narrative with artistic tradition.

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