(Last Updated on : 29/04/2013)
Mughal paintings in India date back to the period in between the sixteenth and the eighteenth century. It was the period when the Mughal emperors ruled over a large portion of India. The paintings of the Mughal era in India or the Mughal paintings of India flourished and developed during the rule of Emperor Akbar, Jahangir and also during the reign of Shah Jahan. Mughal Paintings form a blend of the Persian and Indian style. The paintings of the Mughal era depicted several themes. The paintings of that period were rich in their range and included events, portraits and scenes of life of the courts, hunting scenes and wild life, and instances of battles.
History of Mughal paintings
The Mughal paintings of India developed during the reign of Humayun
. When he returned to India from his exile, he brought with him to great Persian artists; Abd-us-samad and Mir-Sayyid Ali. In the course of time the art of these tow artists made their presence felt in the local art works and slowly the Mughal painting grew up. The most former example of the Mughal style of art is the Tutinama Painting; 'Tales of a Parrot', which is presently in the Cleveland Museum of Art. There is another famous Mughal painting which is called the 'Princess of the House of Timur'. It is one of the early Mughal paintings which was redone a number of times.
Themes of Mughal Paintings
Mughal Paintings possess a great variety including within itself portraits, scenes and events of court-life, hunting and wildlife scenes, instances from battle fronts, painting depicting lovers in intimate postures, etc.
Development of Mughal Painting
Mughal paintings prospered during the reigns of Akbar
and Shah Jahan
and the early Mughal period paintings are seen in a specialist organization of a scriptorium or palace studio, which was then managed by Baysunqur. The scriptorium was led by the renowned painter Bihzad belonging to the period of the Mughals. Unfortunately, the scriptorium ruined at the end of the rule of Husayn Bayqara, and Saiavid Shah Ismail brought Bihzad to Tabriz in order to organize there the palace studio. Several other painters were brought to Bukhara by the conqueror of Uzbek, Muhammad Shaybani. But the scriptorium's fame was not marred and it acted as a role model for the scriptoria constructed later by Humayun and Akbar.
Painting in the court of Akbar
The paintings of the Mughal era experienced growth on a large-scale under the rule of Akbar. At that time, a large number of artists painted under the supervision of two Persian artists. Since Akbar was interested in tales, the paintings of his period are based on Ramayana
and Persian epics. Mughal paintings demonstrated raised naturalism which are accompanied by animal tales, portraits, landscapes, etc.
Painting during Jahangir
Jahangir ruled over India from 1605 to 1627 and he offered huge support to several forms of art, mainly paintings. The reign of Jahangir witnessed more finish in brushwork, as well as the use of subdued and lighter colours. The major themes of the paintings of the Mughal era in India circled round the instances from the life of Jahangir, and also portraits, flowers, birds, animals, etc. The most famous examples of the paintings of the Mughal period include a pictorial exemplification of Jehangir-nama, Emperor Jahangir's biography.
Painting during Shah Jahan
The refinement and grace of the period of Jahangir was seen during the rule of Shah Jahan (1628-1658). The warmth and the feel of the paintings were substituted by rigidity and coldness. Themes of Shah Jahan's period focused on lovers on gardens and terraces, musical parties, gathering of ascetics around a fire, etc.
Abu al-Hasan, Painter of Mughal Period
Abu al-Hasan was a famous painter of the Mughal period in India and the Mughal ruler of that time was Jahangir. Abu al-Hasan belonged originally to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was regarded as 'the city with an artistic tradition'. He was the son of Aqa Reza of Hera. Jahangir was responsible for training Abu al-Hasan in his spacious workshops and studios and Abu al-Hasan excelled his father and his employer in a short period. In the form of an acknowledgement to his talent, Jahangir bestowed upon him the title 'Nadir-uz-Saman' or 'Wonder of the Age'.
Decline of Mughal Painting
The movement which was witnessed during the rule of Shah Jahan was also visible during the period of Aurangzeb
. However, Aurangzeb did care very less for the development and growth of Mughal paintings. Still, the Mughal paintings in India continued to exist by getting some aid from other patrons. Slowly, due to the lessening support, a declining movement was initiated in the course of Mughal paintings in India. During the rule of Muhammad Shah
, the Mughal paintings witnessed a short revival. However, with the coming of Shah Alam II to power, the Mughal art form had became already extinct and another form of painting called Rajput painting, started to evolve.
Today, Mughal miniature paintings can be seen, being created by a few artists in the state of Rajasthan
centralized chiefly in Jaipur
. Although several miniature paintings are nice copies of the originals, various artists have developed modern works by using the classic methods, at times, with outstanding artistic effect.