Mughal School

Origin and Development of the Mughal school of Miniature Painting.

Mughal School of art Mughal School of art is not a new style in itself but it was the same Indian school of art which was well refined and polished by the Persian artist it the help of Indian Artists. Actually, Mughal art is the mixture of Indian (Rajajasthani traditional art + Persian art = Mughal art. In fact, Mughals were very much impressed by the Indian style of art but the general ornamentation and border decoration was of Persian style.

      Origin and Development

The origin of Mughal School of painting is considered to be a land mark in the history. Anew culture of painting developed under the patronage of Mughal rulers of Taimur dynasty in Bukhara and Samarkand and it reached its peak during the 15th century. Taimur gave due regard and importance to the artists in his court. Bihjad was the best artist among all the painters of that time.

Babur was from Taimur family, founder of Mughal Empire in India. Babur was mostly in the battle field and died in 1530 A.D. His son Humyun had to spend 13 years in exile in Iran after being pushed out by SherShahSuri from India. Humayun was also busy in battle but he got the painting of Dastan – a- ameer Hamza done his time. He had two famous artists in his court who came from Kabul namely Saiyyad Ali (of Tabrez) and Khawaja Abdussamad (of Shiraz) from Bihjad School of art. Humayun died in 1555 or 1556 A.D. after ascending the throne of Delhi and left his son Akbar, only child as his successor. Akbar was only 13-year-old at that time. Emperor Akbar was keenly interested in the art of painting and architecture as well as sculpture also. Akbar had a broad vision. The Mughal School of painting was organized at its zenith during this time. A large number of Indian Artists from all over India were recruited to work in his court. There are many manuscripts that were illustrated in his time. They are………


According to the Ain-e -Akbari of Abul fazal, during that period, about 1400 events had been painted, out of which few are available now. Akbar had started a new religion Deen – e- Ilahi the aim was of which was to compromise or Suleh Kul. He became very popular in a very short time because of his greatness and liberality. Mir Saiyyad ali, Khwaja Abdussamad, Bihzad, bhag, Miskin, Basavan, Manohar, Daulat, Mansur, Kesu, Lal, Dasawan, Shankar Goverdhan and Inayat etc. are very impartment and famous painters of Akbar’s court or atelier.

Jahangir, son of Akbar, was a great lover of art and nature. The Mughal miniature reached a very high level of excellence in his period. He encourages his painters. As a result, a number of paintings were painted of birds, flower, and animals in his time. Portrait painting became very popular during his time and attained heights of refinement. We even find some portraits of ladies illustrated in his time.  Famous painter of Jahangir’s times is Ustad Mansoor (bird’s painter), Abul Hassan (Animal and portrait painter), Bichitra (Symbolic painter), Bishan Das, Balchand, Mukhlis, Daulat, Riza, Bhim, and Inayt. Under Jahangir’s patronage, Painting acquired greater charm, refinement and dignity. He had great fascination for nature and took delight in the portrait of birds, animals and flowers. The anwar –e –sunahli, is another fable book. The portrait of Jahangir illustrated is a typical example of miniatures executed during the period of Jahangir. This miniature is in the collection of the national museum, New Delhi. After the death of Jahangir, shahjahan became the emperor of the Mughal Empire in 1626. But he did not patronize painting like his father he was a lover of architecture. He got so many forts, palaces and mosques constructed. The Taj Mahel, red fort of Agra etc. the art of painting went on in Jahangir style in Shahajahan’s time also. But the standard was not as high as it was during Jahangir’s period. The art of painting saw downfall in the time of shahjahan because of the traditional and hackneyed style.

Aurangzeb came as a fanatic Muslim ruler. He was a bitter enemy of painting and music. Most of the artist went to hills where they got shelter and after reaching there they invented a rare new style of painting which is known as Pahari School of art. In this way the Mughal painting saw its end during the time of Aurangzeb.

During the period of Bahadurshah, there was a revival of Mughal painting after the neglect shown by Aurangzeb. The style showed an improvement in quality. After 1712 A.D. 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. Finally, the glorious period of Mughal Miniatures Art came to an end the early 18th century. So, we can say that Mughal Art originated with Mughals, developed with Mughals and ended with Mughal rule in India.

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