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Mughal Paintings - Imperial Atelier of Mughals

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:25 AM
Mughal court scene paintings
Mughal paintings achieved new delicacy and romatic flavour during the reign of Shah Jahan. Love, romance, portraits and court scenes became the common themes for the mughal paintings. In the mughal court scene paintings, the court scenes are depicted in grandeur and they were rich in variety which included portraits, events and court scenes from the court life. They depict the emperor sitting on a high throne and subjects offering him their valuable things. The rich and colorful miniature paintings produced under Mughals had strong Persian influence. The paintings were aristocratic, individualistic and strong in portraiture where the plush court scenes and hunting expedition of royalty were depicted. The fascinating Mughal paintings portrays the scene of Mughal court, which are skillfully created by using multiple luscious colors. Dresses of busy emperors, courtiers, servants and architectural designs make the observers familiar with the reign of Mughal emperors. 

After Humayun, subsequent rulers like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan were great patrons of the mughal paintings. The incredible miniature paintings in Mughal India during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the reigns of the three most renowned emperors of the Mughal dynasty Akbar (1556-1605), Jahangir (1605-1627) and Shahjahan (1628-1658) are acclaimed for their beautiful and evocative work. These paintings speak about the daily life of imperial court. Akbar, who was known for his love for art and culture, was liberal enough to let thousands of the mughal painters depict scenes from the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The painters of Akbar`s court like Manohar and Mansur depicted the episodes from Babur`s campaigns, his visits to his relatives, his feasts, his hunts etc. Moreover, a number of paintings of court and hunting scenes and portraits were also executed during the period of Akbar. He collected artists from India and Persia and employed more than a hundred painters, most of whom were Hindus from Gujarat, Gwalior and Kashmir. They worked under the two Persian master-artists Abdus Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali, but they were encouraged and inspired by Akbar. After him, Jehangir encouraged artists to paint portraits and court scenes. His most talented portrait painters were Abul Hasan and Bishan Das. Bahadur Shah I (1707-1712 AD.) also tried to restore the court patronize of paintings

Mughal Court paintings provides very useful information about the life and times of rulers of the period. These paintings also reflect the contemporary social and political condition of the people. Social customs and courtly customs as depicted in these paintings. Presence of the foreign ambassadors tells that Mughal rulers had active trade connections with foreign countries. Thus it can be said that these paintings are great story tellers and informative.

Mughal love paintings
Mughal love paintings are one of the important sub-kinds of Mughal paintings and they are wonderful illustration of the Mughal era. These paintings are greatly admired and praised for their richness, styles and innovativeness. They had splendid themes and unique styles. They reflect the rich culture of mughal period in their own imaginative way and give us a glimpse of what that period was all about. The cultures, art, concept of love etc. portrayed in these paintings are true specimen of that period. In these paintings, imagination and creativity played a much bigger role than realism. These love paintings are loved and appreciated all over the world. The tasteful sensuousness of these paintings have found admirers in art connoisseurs of the West. These paintings reflect the grandeur of the mughal rulres and their glamorous lifestyles together with their queens and wives.

What makes Mughal love paintings even more outstanding is the unique blend of Indian and Persian style. The themes of these paintings are informative, revealing and provocative. Some of the most general themes of love paintings were, love, lovers, courtly lovers in intimate positions, lovers in a state of despair etc. Mughal love paintings are full of luxurious world of physical beauty, colorful themes and sensuality. These paintings took their inspiration from colorful life styles of Mughal rulers. Rulers’ love lives are depicted in these love paintings. Some of the mughal love paintings contain scenes where in a prince or an emperor is sitting with his lover. She may be his wife or one of the wives, as the Mughal and Rajaput rulers kept many wives, but the simple scene of two lovers sitting side by side illustrates much more than what we see. Other important paintings include the depiction of a Royal couple spending their leisure time together.

Mughal love paintings capture ones imagination because of their unique style and choice of themes. Emperor Jahangir, who had a keen artistic sense, encouraged and helped in the development of Mughal love paintings. His contribution in encouraging love paintings is greatly acknowledged. ‘Jahangirnama’ had some of the most amazing paintings reflecting the wonderful art taste of the ruler. He encouraged the depiction of his life in Jahangirnama. He also patronized many great painters of the time including Mansoor, Abul Hasan, Daswant and Basawan. He loved fine arts and encouraged the growth the poetry, paintings, dance, music etc. He was also a good writer and lover of nature. There were renowned Mughal painters who were expert in making love paintings. Govardhan and Ustad Mansur were the most famous artists of that era. Ustad Mansur created huge impact as a Mughal painter during the 17th Century. 

Mughal Nature paintings
Nature is a very important part of Indian life, art and culture. Therefore, nature has always been essential to Indian imagination. The mountains and hills, river and lakes, plants and tress are still regarded as the natural abodes of deities and auspicious places for meditation. The beauty of nature in the form of plants, birds, flowers, animals etc. form an important subject for the Mughal paintings during the reign of Jahangir. Trees, plants, rivers, mountains etc. were painted in the Mugal paintings. Rivers, mountains and natural scenes are painted with accuracy. In hunting scenes also there was great reality and beauty in the forest scenes.

Ustad Mansoor was the best painter of Birds. His portraits of birds, animals and flowers set in their natural habitat can be seen as one of the earliest scientific studies of the animal world. One of the matchless and lively paintings was of the Falcon with an expression of cruelty and violence in his eyes among birds partridge, squirrels, hen, pigeon, peacock, duck etc. have been painted beautifully. 

Mughal artists began to look at nature with a keen eye when they were called upon to illustrate the Babarnama. As it has already been stressed Babar was a passionate naturalist and in his memoirs described flowers and plants with the accuracy of a scientist and the feeling of a poet. Thus, the painter too had to be both an acute observer and an imaginative poet to represent in line and color what the sensitive emperor had described in elegant prose.

Hunting scene paintings
Hunting paintings depict the hunting scenes. Hunting can be called the practice of pursuing animals (normally wildlife) for food, amusement or trade. In the past, hunting was famous among the kings and became a sport in medieval Europe. India’s tradition of hunting as a royal sport is ancient. Hunting enjoyed a prominent role in the imperial courts and this is evident from the Indian epics, Puranas, poems and plays from ancient India. Mughal painting was rich in variety and included portraits, events and scenes from court life, wild life and hunting scenes and illustrations of battles. 

Most of the Mughal paintings portray the scenes from the battlefields, court scenes and hunting scenes. Hunting was a favorite pastime of the Mughals, lions being declared royal game to which only the emperor could permit access. Accounts of lion hunts were preserved for posterity in a number of texts, including Jahangir's biography, as well as in the miniature paintings rendered faithfully by court artists who accompanied the royal hunting party on its expeditions. It was during Akbar’s reign when hunting is illustrated and recorded in details never before in history. He was a keen hunter.

Mughal Portrait Paintings
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, hunting scenes, wild life, instances of battles etc. Most early Mughal portraits are of male courtiers, since females were rarely permitted to appear in open courts. It was due perhaps to the influence of Noor Jahan, the favourite queen of Jahangir, that women became more popular as the subject matter of painting. Bichitra was one of the most brilliant Mughal portrait painters, who was active under both Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Bichitra's portraits are admirable for their refinement as well as their subtle characterizations and these two sensitively rendered miniatures are among his finest works. 

After Akbar, Jahangir encouraged artists to paint portraits and durbar scenes. His most talented portrait painters were Ustad Mansur, Abul Hasan and Bishandas. The painter Mansur received an imperial title for his depictions of animals and flowers. Others were known for their portrait work, allegorical pictures or beautiful illuminated borders. In the 1700, scenes featuring pretty women at various activities became fashionable.

Essence of Mughal paintings
Mughal paintings prospered and developed during the reigns of Akbar, Jahangir and 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. 

Mughal painting was essentially a court art; it developed under the patronage of the ruling Mughal emperors and began to decline when the rulers lost interest. The subjects treated were generally secular, consisting of illustrations to historical works and Persian and Indian literature, portraits of the emperor and his court, studies of natural life etc. The paintings in the period of Shah Jahan (1628-1658 A.D.) evince the pomp and grandeur of Mughal court. Indian Mughal paintings originated during the rule of Mughal Emperor, Humayun (1530-1540). When he came back to India from the exile, he also brought with him two excellent Persian artists, Mir-Sayyid Ali and Abd-us-samad.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.


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