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Bahadur Shah: The last Mughal Emperor of India

The 'Delhi Book' of Thomas Metcalfe, held by the British Library, includes artwork showing Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal Emperor of India.

Portrait of Bahadur Shah

Portrait of Bahadur Shah [Add.Or. 5475, folio 17]

Portrait of Bahadur Shah, the last Mughal Emperor of India, painted in around 1840. His reign began in 1837 and ended after the events of the Indian Uprising in 1858, when he was exiled to Burma by the British. Thomas Metcalfe spent much of his time in Delhi in the company of Bahadur Shah and his court.

 

A Persian poem written in Bahadur Shah's hand

A Persian poem written in Bahadur Shah's hand [Add.Or. 5475, folio 32.]

A Persian poem written in Bahadur Shah's hand. It was a sign of friendship to write out a poem in one's own personal calligraphic style to give to a friend. Thomas Metcalfe's note above the poem tells us that Bahadur Shah gave him the poem on 29 April 1844. On the opposite page, Metcalfe wrote an English translation of the poem which reads as follows:

A Friend is he, who proffers Friendship's hand
When care or grief our kindred feelings claim
Not he whom prosperous days alone command
And is a Friend or Brother but in name.

The British Library has acquired the Delhi Book with the generous assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund.