Mausoleum of Akbar, Sikandra 1962
Watercolour, by a Delhi or Agra artist, of the Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra, dated c.1810. The image is inscribed on the front, 'Akbar's tomb at Secundra near Agra drawn by Thomas Longcroft.' This drawing is clearly by an Indian artist and not by Thomas Longcroft, although it may possibly be from his collection. If Longcroft collected the drawing it must date from c.1810. Longcroft was in India from 1793 until his death in 1811. He was himself an amateur artist but also possessed a collection of drawings by Indian artists. The whole collection passed to his relative Thomas Twining and his descendant, Louisa Twining, who indiscriminately attributed all pictures in the collection to Longcroft himself. The mausoleum of the Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605) is set in a large square garden surrounded by battlemented walls with a red sandstone gateway at the centre of each of the four sides. The ground-level storey of the mausoleum comprises a set of arched recesses with a high recessed arch or 'pishtaq' at the centre of each side topped by an ornamental marble kiosk. The burial chamber lies deep within the building. On the top storey, surrounded by a marble screen, is a cenotaph placed exactly above the grave further below. It is carved from a single block of marble and inscribed with the ninety-nine names of Allah. During Akbar's reign he encouraged a synthesis of Hindu and Islamic artistic traditions. His tomb may be seen as a culmination of this syle in its combined use of imported arcuate and local trabeate methods of construction. The building remained unfinished at his death and was completed by his son Jahangir.