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The Minto Album,
compiled c. 1612 - 1640

The Minto Album is a collection of forty loose folios, now divided between the Chester Beatty Library (19) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (21). Together with the loose folios that make up the Wantage Album (also in the V&A) and the Kevorkian Album (mainly in the Metropolitan Museum of Art but with some folios in the Freer Gallery of Art), these folios are thought to be the remains of a large corpus of folios which was originally used to create a series of several, related albums. Dating the folios is difficult, but it is generally accepted that work on the album(s) was begun at Jahangir’s command but continued under Shah Jahan.

Included among the various types of paintings in the album are formal depictions of the emperors alone and with their sons, informal scenes of the emperors and princes relaxing, portraits of various courtiers, genre scenes of musicians and ascetics, and ‘portraits’ of animals. On the reverse of each folio is a panel of calligraphy (Persian poetry), usually the work of the Iranian calligrapher, Mir Ali (fl. c.1505–1545). Both paintings and calligraphy are surrounded by beautiful, decorated borders.