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a 17th century Mughal painting
Mughal painting is a particular style of South Asian painting, generally confined to miniatures either as book illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums, which emerged from Persian miniature painting, with Indian Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist influences, and developed during the period of the Mughal Empire (16th -19th centuries).

Genesis

When the second Mughal emperor, Humayun (reigned 1530–1540 and 1555-1556) was in Tabrizmarker in the Safavid court of Shah Tahmasp I, he was exposed to Persian miniature painting. When Humayun returned to India, he brought with him two accomplished Persian artists, Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad. Their works, and the assimilation of local styles during succeeding decades, gave shape to a distinct style, which became known as Mughal painting. The Tutinama (literal meaning “Tales of a Parrot”), now in the Cleveland Museum of Artmarker, is among the earliest examples of Mughal painting. The manuscript was made in the reign of Humayun's son, Akbar (r. 1556-1605). Another manuscript the Hamzanama, also made early in Akbar's reign, is said to have contained about 1400 large paintings on cotton (only a fraction have survived) and took about 15 years to complete.

Themes

Mughal painting was rich in variety and included portraits, events and scenes from court life, wild life and hunting scenes, and illustrations of battles.

Development

Mughal painting developed and flourished during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

During the reign of Akbar (1556-1605), the imperial court, apart from being the centre of administrative authority to
Painting by Ustad Mansur (died after 1621)


manage and rule the vast Mughal empire, also emerged as a centre of cultural excellence. Mughal painting thrived and hundreds of painters created innumerable paintings depicting scenes from various Hindu epic including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; themes with animal fables; individual portraits; and paintings on scores of different themes. Mughal style during this period continued to refine itself with elements of realism and naturalism coming to the fore.

Jahangir (1605-27) had an artistic inclination and during his reign Mughal painting developed further. Brushwork became finer and the colors lighter. Jahangir was also deeply influenced by European painting. During his reign he came into direct contact with the English Crown and was sent gifts of oil paintings, which included portraits of the King and Queen. He encouraged his royal atelier to take up the single point perspective favoured by European artists, unlike the flattened multi-layered style used in traditional miniatures. He particularly encouraged paintings depicting events of his own life, individual portraits, and studies of birds, flowers and animals. The Jahangirnama , written during his lifetime, which is a biographical account of Jahangir, has several paintings, including some unusual subjects such as the sexual union of a saint with a tigress, and fights between spiders.

During the reign of Shah Jahan (1628-58), Mughal paintings continued to develop, but they gradually became cold and rigid. Themes including musical parties; lovers, sometimes in intimate positions, on terraces and gardens; and ascetics gathered around a fire, abound in the Mughal paintings of this period.

Govardhan was a noted painter during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

Decline

Aurangzeb (1658-1707) did not actively encourage Mughal paintings, but as this art form had gathered momentum and had a number of patrons, Mughal paintings continued to survive, but the decline had set in. Some sources however note that a few of the best Mughal paintings were made for Aurangzeb, speculating that the painters may have realized that he was about to close the workshops and thus exceeded themselves in his behalf. A brief revival was noticed during the reign of Muhammad Shah 'Rangeele' (1719-48), but by the time of Shah Alam II (1759-1806), the art of Mughal painting had lost its glory. By that time, other schools of Indian painting had developed, including, in the royal courts of the Rajput kingdoms of Rajputana, Rajput painting and in the cities ruled by the British East India Company, the Company style under Western influence.

Modern Mughal art

Mughal miniature paintings are still being created today by a small number of artists in Rajasthanmarker concentrated mainly in Jaipurmarker. Although many of these miniatures are skillful copies of the originals, some artists have produced modern works using classic methods to, at times, remarkable artistic effect.

The skills needed to produce these modern versions of Mughal miniatures are still passed on from generation to generation, although many artisans also employ dozens of workers, often painting under trying working conditions, to produce remarkable works sold under the signature of their modern masters.

Of the modern Mughal masters recognized by India, the most prominent remains Rafi Uddin who is the recipient of a large number of artistic honours from Indiamarker over the last several decades. His younger brother Saif Uddin, who ghost-painted for his famous brother for years, has since become the most recognized modern Mughal painter straying from traditional Indian scenes into themes well away from century old traditions with remarkable effect.

Other masters in Rajasthan include Kaluram Panchal, Ram Gopal Vijayvargiya, Ved Pal Sharma, Kailash Raj, Tilak Gitai, Gopal Kamawat, Mohammed Usman and Mohammed Luqman, Kishan Mali Sharma and the Joshi family.

See also



References

^ http://www.miniatureclub.com

Further reading

  • Painting for the Mughal Emperor (The Art of the Book 1560-1660) by Susan Stronge (ISBN 0-8109-6596-8)
  • Fiction in Mughal Miniature Painting by Prof. P. C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet
  • Painting the Mughal Experience by Som Prakash Verma, 2005 (ISBN 0-19-566756-5)
  • Chitra, Die Tradition der Miniaturmalerei in Rajasthan by K.D. Christof & Renate Haass, 1999 (ISBN 978-3-89754-231-0)

External links




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