Development of Mughal Paintings in India

Development of Mughal Paintings in India

Development of Mughal Paintings in India, Lepakshi Paintings, Features of the Mughal Paintings, The Painters of the Mughal Empire.

Lepakshi paintings

Another type of Indian painting is the Lepakshi painting, a wall painting made on the walls of the temple of Lepakshi, a small village in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Development of Mughal Paintings in India

Mughal paintings reflect an exclusive combination of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles. As the name suggests, these paintings evolved as well as developed during the rule of Mughal emperors in India, between the 16th century and 19th century.

The origin of the Mughal School of painting is considered to be a landmark in the history of painting in India. With the establishment of the Mughal Empire, the Mughal School of painting originated in the reign of Akbar in AD 1560. Emperor Akbar was keenly interested in the art of painting and architecture. While a boy he had taken lessons in drawing.

At the beginning of his rule, an atelier of Paintings was established under the supervision of the two Persian masters, Mir Sayyed Ali and Abdul Samad Khan, who was originally employed by his father Humayun. A large number of Indian artists from all over India were recruited to work under the Persian masters.

Aurangzeb was a puritan and therefore, did not encourage art. Painting declined during his period and lost much of its earlier quality. A large number of court painters migrated to the provincial courts. During the period of Bahadur Shah, there was a revival of the Mughal painting after the neglect shown by Aurangzeb. The style so employed showed an improvement in quality. After AD 1712, the Mughal painting again started deteriorating under the later Mughals. Though retaining the outer form, it became lifeless and lost the inherent quality of the earlier Mughal Art.

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Features of the Mughal Paintings

The Mughal style evolved as a result of a synthesis of the indigenous Indian style of painting and the Safavid school of Persian painting. The Mughal style is marked by supple naturalism based on close observation of nature and on fine and delicate drawings. It is of a high aesthetic and secular. An illustrated manuscript of the Tutinama in the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA) appears to be the first work of the Mughal School.

The style of painting in this manuscript shows the Mughal style n its formative stage. Shortly after that, between AD 1564-69, was completed a very ambitious project in the form of the Hamza-Nama illustrations on cloth, originally consisting of 1400 leaves in volumes. Each leaf measured about 27” X20”. The style of Hamza-Nama is more developed and refined than that of the Tuti-name.

The Hamza-Nama illustrations are in a private collection in Switzerland. It shows Mihrdukht shooting arrows at the bird on a multi-staged minaret, from the upper storey of a pavilion. In this Miniature, one can observe that the architecture is Indo-Persian, the tree types are mainly derived from the Deccan painting and female types are adapted from the earlier Rajasthani paintings. Women are wearing four cornered pointed skirts and transparent Muslim veils. Turbans worn by men are small and tight, typical of the Akbar period.

The Mughal style was further influenced by European painting, which came into the Mughal court and absorbed some of the Western techniques like shading and perspective.

The other important manuscripts illustrated during the period of Akbar are the Gulistan of Sadi dated 1567 in the British Museum, London, the Anwari-Suhavli (a book of fables) dated 1570 in the School of Oriental and African studies, University of London, another Gulistan of Sadi in the Royal Asiatic Society Library copied at Fatehpur Sikri in 1581 by Mohammed Husain al-Kasmiri, a Diwan of the poet Amir Shahi in the Bibliotheque Nationale, of the Diwan of Hafiz, one divided between the British Museum and the Chester Beatty Library.

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Dublin and the Second in the Persian section of the Chester Beatty Library another manuscript of the Tuti-name in the same library, the Razm-name (Persian translation of the Mahabharata) in the Maharaja of Jaipur Museum, Jaipur the Baharistan of Jami dated AD 1595 in the Bodleian Library, the Darab-name in the British Museum, the Akbar-Nama (circa 1600) in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Tarikh-i-Alfi dated AD 1596 in the Gulistan Library in Tehran, a number of the Babar-Nama, a manuscript executed in the last decade of the 16th century, the Twarikh-e-Khandani Taimuria in the Khuda Baksh library, Dublin etc.

Moreover, a number of paintings of the court and hunting scenes and portraits were also executed during the period of Akbar.

The portrait of Jahangir illustrated is a typical example of a miniature executed during the period of Jahangir. This miniature is in the collection of the National Museum, New Delhi. It shows Jahangir holding a picture of the Virgin Mary in his right hand. The portrait is remarkable for its superb drawing and fine modelling and realism.

The Painters of the Mughal Empire

The list of Akbar’s court painters includes a large number of names. Some of the famous painters, other than the two Persian masters already mentioned, are Dasvanth, Miskina, Nanha, Kanha, Basawan, Manohar, Doulat, Mansur, Kesu, Bhim Gujarati, Dharam Das, Madhu, Surdas, Lal, Shankar Goverdhan and Inayat. The well-known artists of Shahjahan’s period are Bichiter, Chaitaraman, Anup chatter, Mohammad Nadir of Samarqand, Inayat and Makr.

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