History of Mughal Paintings

Mughal Paintings has the influence of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu religion. Generally, the paintings were created in a form of books illustration, miniatures or as a single/ one piece painting. These paintings play an important role in the history of Indian Paintings. Mughal Paintings evolved during various Mughal emperors and they were very impressed and inspired by the Persian school of miniature and used the same typical miniatures in their Mughal Paintings. Mughal used different themes to make their miniatures or paintings such as legendary stories, wildlife, royal life, hunting scenes, battlefield, Muslim mythology and more. And the best part of these paintings is that they have now become the main medium to describe the tales of the Mughal Empire. This form of art was so famous at that many Indian courts also used Mughal style paintings. And in our present time, there is a huge collection of many Mughal Paintings in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Historic information about Mughal Paintings

The historical representation of Mughal Paintings is very distinct from our imagination. Mughal Empire came into known in India; the Delhi Sultanate has already ruled various parts of India and its subcontinent. The miniature was into existence from the 10th century in the variable region of India and continues to grow in many Indian regional courts during the ruling of Delhi Sultanate. Emperor Humayun brought the two most famous Persian artists named Abd al-Samad and Mir Saiyyad Ali when he was returning from his exile. Mir Abd al-Samad created many famous paintings called “Khamsa of Nizami” after the instructions and orders given by the Emperor Humayun.  These paintings have diverged towards more to a new form of a part known as Mughal Paintings and away from the traditional Persian art form. And this how the style of Mughal Paintings was born.

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These Mughal Paintings became more amongst various rulers because they thought that this is the suitable and interesting idea to portray their royalty and fascinating stories in this way. And these rulers though that this is the greatest way to depict their achievements and bravery in war. Akbar the son of Humayun took this Mughal Paintings into the new heights of Indian Paintings. He planned to extend his father library after the death of his Humayun. He was fond of Mughal arts and Mughal paintings become more famous during the ruling age of Akbar. And this ritual is again forwarded to his successors such as Shah Jahan and Dara Sikoh. So, let’s have a look at the development of Mughal paintings in the ruling age of various Mughal Emperors.

Evolution of Mughal Paintings during Akbar ruling

Akbar is very close to his father Humayun and due to that reason he thought to extend this Mughal art as a symbol of their Mughal talent. He learned so many things with Abd al-Samad and then he developed the Mughal Paintings by giving a very attention towards the artwork. Akbar had numerous painters and he also narrated his “Tutinama” and also created 250 miniatures to narrate “Tutinama” and this “Tutinama” is Cleveland Museum of Art. The other famous paintings of Akbar time is Darab Nama, Kamsa of Nizami, Baharistan, Gulistan and more. Gulistan was by Saadi Shirazi at Fatehpur Sikri.

Evolution of Mughal Paintings during Jahangir ruling

Jahangir is very much interest towards art just like his father Akbar had and this interest of Jahangir is become of major of growth in Mughal Paintings and Indian Paintings as well. He was very much influenced by the European artist that’s why ordered his painters to use European techniques and perspective for paintings. This painting’s history is more largely commissioned when Jahangir started portraying Kings and Queens with the help of European techniques. Jahangir used fine brush light colors and single strokes in the Mughal Paintings after getting inspired by European paintings. And the major project of Jahangir was the “Jahangirnama”. It was basically an autobiography of Jahangir himself which portrayed the Mughal paintings with distinct themes, spider fighting. He also created more paintings of birds, flowers, and animals in a much realistic manner.

Evolution of Mughal Paintings during Shah Jahan ruling

During the ruling reign of Shah Jahan, Mughal Paintings led with more amazing and realistic paintings. Shah Jahan focused on creating the paintings of the garden because he thought that this kind of paintings will give an aesthetic pleasure and he was also very interested in creating paintings of lovers in some intimate positions. He commissioned an important work during his ruling period called as “Padshanama” and this was very lavish and luxurious because it had gold plating work. In Padshanama, the achievements of Kings in the courts with other servants and courtier were depicted. In this work, several servants are portrayed in the paintings with amazing detailing with frontal view technique.

Evolution of Mughal Paintings during Aurangzeb ruling

As all the predecessors of Aurangzeb encourage the Mughal paintings, unlike Aurangzeb did not have such support towards Mughal paintings. However, during the reign of Aurangzeb Mughal paintings already had the support of the common peoples and many paintings were during that period of time. Aurangzeb did not support or order these paintings so, painters decided to create them in their own workshops. However, Aurangzeb ordered the painters to close these workshops as soon as possible because he was not in favour of such paintings.

Outstanding painters of Mughal Period

Mughal Paintings are created by many amazing painters and these painters took care of miniatures to elaborate the tales of Mughal kings. This Mughal painting was started by the Persian artist Mir Saiyyad Ali and Abd al-Samad that were the main gems in the Mughal Paintings. However, in the 16th and 17th century many famous painters such as Basawan, Miskin, Daswanth and LAL who worked efficiently in the Mughal Empire. Akbar brought an artist named as Kesu Das to start European technique in their paintings and another known painter Govardhan worked in Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan reign with complete interest. Some of the other outstanding artists are Mushfiq, Fazl, and Kamal.