Abu al-Hasan was a painter during the Mughal period in India. Jahangir was the Mughal ruler during that time. Abu al-Hasan originally belonged to Afghanistan. It was considered `the city with an artistic tradition`. He was the son of Aqa Reza of Hera. Emperor Jahangir took the initiative to train Abu al-Hasan in his spacious studios and workshops. Soon he excelled his father and his employer. As an acknowledgement to his talent, Jahangir conferred him the title Nadir-uz-Saman ("Wonder of the Age").
Thus Abu al-Hasan became the royal painter at the `Darbar` of Jahangir. He was bestowed the task of documenting events of the imperial court. This documentation resulted in striking portraits. Not many of Abu al-Hasan`s paintings lasted, but those that distinguish him as the artist, shows that he had also worked on a varied subjects, comprising some day-to-day scenes.
"Squirrels in a Plane Tree" is the most famous painting created by him. Today he is unanimously associated with this painting. The painting adorns the British Library. It is regarded as a `masterful depiction of animal posture and movement`. Such a painting as it was, it could only have been deduced from direct observation. The picture portrays European squirrels, unknown in India during that time. His work indicates that Jahangir`s zoo may have held a few of those animals. As an alternative to the fact it is also believed that on one of his travels Abu al-Hasan may have accompanied Jahangir. But the signature on the painting is perplexing, as it is signed as Nadir al-Asr ("Miracle of the Age"), which is the title of Ustad Mansur. But the style of the painting decidedly does not match with Ustad Mansur`s style. But there remains a possiblity that both painters collaborated on this painting.