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Approach:

  1. Genesis of Mughal School of painting and its characteristics.
  2. Discuss how Mughal School enriched the art of painting in India.
  3. Cite some works of Mughal School of painting.
  4. Conclusion

Mughal School of painting originated in the reign of Humayun who brought two Persian painters from exile, which later attained great heights under Akbar. As a result, the Mughal style evolved as a synthesis of the indigenous Indian style of painting and the Safavid school of Persian painting. The Mughal style is marked by supple naturalism based on close observation of nature and fine and delicate drawing. It is of high aesthetic merit and is primarily aristocratic and secular.

Akbar and his successors brought about revolutionary changes to painting and sensual illustrations. From this period book illumination or individual miniatures replaced wall painting as the most vital form of art. For the first time painters’ names were recorded in inscriptions. Akbar patronized artists from Kashmir and Gujarat. Tuti-Nama, Hamza-Nama are some of the earliest works of the Mughal School. Beautiful illustrations are found on the pages of Baburnama and Akbarnama.

The art of painting reached its climax during the period of Jahangir who himself was a great painter and connoisseur of art. Artists began to use vibrant colors such as peacock blue and red, and were able to give three dimensional effects to paintings. He had great fascination for nature and took delight in the portraiture of birds, animals and flowers. Some important manuscripts illustrated during his period are, an animal fable book called Ayar-i-Danish, Anwar-i-sunavli, a series of the Ramayana of the early 17th century in the typical popular Mughal style.

Under Shah Jahan the Mughal painting maintained its fine quality. Portraiture was given considerable attention by his painters. Apart from portraiture, other paintings showing groups of ascetics and mystics and a number of illustrated manuscripts were also executed during his period.

The withdrawal of royal patronage to painting under Aurangzeb led to the dispersal of artists to different places in the country. This helped in the evolution of regional schools of painting, like in Rajasthan and the Punjab hills giving rise to distinct schools of paintings. For example, Rajasthani, Pahari Schools, etc.

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