This tender portrait of Shah Shuja, which sensitively depicts the second son of Shah Jahan, was commissioned by his grandfather, Jahangir. Mughal children were rarely the subjects of paintings, but Shah Shuja (born 1616) was raised within Jahangir’s own court and was particularly adored. When the boy became seriously ill, the distraught Jahangir vowed to give up hunting if the child survived. Shah Shuja’s small, grave face and gem-studded protective amulets (worn on a gold chain across his chest) capture that strong affection.
The borders are consistent in style with those that surround calligraphy panels in the Late Shah Jahan Album. When and why the portrait was pasted onto a calligraphy page remains an open question.