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Mughal Miniatures

Mughal miniatures are a style of painting that originated in the 16th century and evolved during the reign of the Mughal Empire. They were usually commissioned by the reigning emperors and often involved a group of artists working together on a single painting, each specialising in individual aspects of the painting. Subject matter included portraiture, events and scenes from court life, illustrations of battles, wild life and hunting scenes and flora and fauna. The artists mainly focussed their attention on depicting beauty by creating intricate designs of jewels, drapes and clothes; making use of finer brush work and subdued colours.

Mughal miniatures have been influenced by the Persian style of painting as in using the flat aerial perspective, the upright format for their subject of depiction and decorated borders framing the centre stage. However, the Mughals brought elements of realism and naturalism into their work. Later, they adopted the single point perspective of the Europeans unlike the flattened multi - layered style used in traditional miniatures.

The art of making Mughal miniatures have been passed onto generations. They are still being created by a few artists in different parts of Rajasthan. Although many of them are a skilful representation of the originals, others are modern works showing remarkable artistic effect. Recently, contemporary artists from both India and Pakistan are exploring the miniature tradition to push its boundaries and incorporate contemporary mediums as well as themes.

Further Reading

Mughal and Rajput Paintings by Milo Cleveland Beach

Attributed to Hashim by M. C. Beach; attributed to Bichitr by ACSAA; A durbar scene with the newly crowned Emperor Aurangzeb in his golden throne