Mughal Paintings

Mughal paintings emerged from Persian miniature painting and developed in the court of the Mughal Empire of the 16th to 18th centuries. Painting sought whole-hearted encouragement during the Mughal period. 

Contribution of Mughals in the field of painting

  • Both Babar and Humayun were art-loving. Two artists had accompanied Humayun from Iran. But Humayun expired before his art flourished.

Painting during Akbar’s period: 

  • Painting during Akbar’s period got an Indian touch hence the effect of foreign touch gradually disappeared. The chief painters in Akbar’s court were: Sanwal Dass, Jagannath, Tarachand, etc. 
  • Akbar opened a separate department for the progress of painting with Abdul Samad as its head. The Mughal style began reflecting itself during this period which was an admixture of Indian and Iranian art.

Painting during Jahangir’s Period: 

  • Jahangir was so well conversant in art and paintings that he could name the painter on seeing the painting. 
  • His chief painters were -Aga Raza, Abdul Hussain, Mohammad Nadir and Mohammad Murad. 
  • Jahangir spent lavishly on the progress of painting. The Indian reflection replaced the Iranian reflection now.

Painting during Shah Jahan’s period: 

  • Shah Jahan had a special taste for architecture. But it cannot be said with certainty that Shah Jahan’s period remained untouched in the field of painting. 
  • The chief painters of this time were : Mir Hassan, Anoop, Chinamani, Chitra etc. 
  • Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Shah Jahan had a special taste for painting. His favourite painters were: Faqui Ullah, Mir Kasim, etc.

Painting in Aurangzeb’s Period: 

  • Aurangzeb was a staunch Mohammedan. He used to say, “To encourage painting is against the dictates of the Quran”. He discharged his court painters. 
  • The jobless painters sought shelter in neighbouring states like Avadh, Mysore, Hyderabad etc.

Main themes of Paintings of Mughal period:

  • Paintings of the Mughal period were beyond the lives of the laymen. That was deemed as only the thing of the court. Hence the royal families, natural scenes, wars, animal fights, hunting, royal processions, etc. were painted in the paintings of this period.
  • There was no painting related to religious matters in Mughal paintings whereas there was an overflow of paintings on earthly and natural beauty.
  • Special emphasis was laid on natural scenes in the paintings of the Mughal period. The natural and scenic beauty was portrayed in the background of every painting. 
  • Special emphasis was laid on the individual paintings of the Mughal rulers.

The Mughal painting style later spread to other Indian courts, both Muslim and Hindu, and later Sikh, and was often used to depict Hindu subjects. This was mostly in northern India. It developed many regional styles in these courts, tending to become bolder but less refined.

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