Dasvant

Dasvant, (flourished 16th century, India), a leading Indian Mughal artist, cited by Abu al-Faḍl ʿAllāmī, the historiographer of the emperor Akbar’s court, as having surpassed all painters to become “the first master of the age.”

Little is known of his life, though it is conjectured that he was a Hindu, probably of humble origin. He came to the attention of Akbar, who personally placed him under the tutelage of the Persian master Khwāja ʿAbd al-Ṣamad. Only a few miniatures bearing his name have survived, the large majority of them illustrating the Jaipur Razm-nāmeh (the Persian name for the Indian epic the Mahabharata). These works were designed by Dasvant but painted by his associates. A miniature in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s manuscript copy of the Ṭūṭī-nāmeh (“Parrot Book”) is the only painting on which he worked alone. Even the little that has survived is sufficient to justify his reputation. Of unstable mind, he killed himself in a fit of madness.

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