Court Paintings of India
Table of Contents
0 Preface & Acknowledgements
2 Techniques and Practices
3 The Visual Revolution
4 Mughal Paintings
5 Deccani Paintings
6 Rajput Paintings in the Plains
7 Rajput Painting in the Hills
List of Illustrations
The old songs weary my heart...the love story of Farhad and Shirin has grown old and lost its savour...if we read at all, let it be what we have seen and beheld ourselves.
Although written about literature by Prince Daniyal, these words may well have been uttered by Jahangir, the emperor who was more interested in the wonders and pleasures of life and art than in statecraft. However, his father, Akbar, during whose reign the Mughal style began with a bang rather than a whimper, loved old stories but wanted them illustrated in a new style. He had inherited from his own father, the hapless Humayun, a small, shaky kingdom and two Persian painters known as Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad. Humayun met them in the Safavi court of Shah Tahmasp, who at the time was suffering from a bout of orthodoxy and had turned away from the arts. Humayun's exile in Persia, therefore, became a blessing in disguise for the history of Indian painting, for when he returned to India to regain his empire, the two artists were the only Persian treasures he brought back. It was also fortuitous that during their stay in Kabul both Humayun and his son Akbar took painting lessons from the two Persian masters; thus, Akbar's subsequent interest in pictures was not simply that of a dillettante.
Humayun was an avid bibliophile and shortly after regaining Delhi died from a fall down the staircase of his library. Had he been spared a few more years doubtless, he would have had manuscripts copied and illustrated by the Persian masters. However, it is unlikely that he would have established the kind of karkhana that Akbar did by recruiting scores of artists from all over the subcontinent. Like his father and other Timurid ancestors, Akbar was interested in books and libraries, but this could not have been the sole motive for the remarkable patronage he extended to the arts from the early days of his monarchy even while he was continuously engaged in wars and battles. He was quick to realize that mere conquests did not make a lasting empire. The principal ingredients required for the task were to instill confidence in the vast majority of his subjects who were Hindus, establish a sound system of administration and make the awesome majesty of the emperor visible. To these ends, he liberally married Hindu princesses, observed Hindu festivals, abolished unfair taxes on Hindu pilgrims and even displayed a religious catholicity and mystical orientation that always appeals to the Hindus. He appointed leading Hindus to reform and reorganize the entire process of administration and used art and architecture to make his glory and power more visible both to the intelligentsia and to the general masses. To a greater and lesser degree, both his son and grandson continued to recognize the tremendous propaganda value of the arts, and curiously the Mughal who did not, the Emperor Aurangzeb, hastened the destruction of the empire.
One of the earliest commissions of Akbar was the Hamzanama (M2), the story of Hamza, an uncle of the prophet Muhammad. Even a cursory comparison with the earlier Persian-style picture (M1) will make it abundantly clear that the Hamza represented a totally different approach to painting. In the grandeur of its conception, the dynamic forcefulness of its composition, the unbounded energy of its sweeping outlines and the expressiveness of its dramatic tension, the Hamzanama paintings remain truly unmatched. One can well imagine why when the project, consisting of 1,400 paintings, was completed, Abul Fazal remarked: "No one has seen such another gem nor was there anything equal to it in the establishment of any king."
One can analyze and isolate the various elements that went into the formulation of this dynamic new style and one can trace their sources in earlier Indian and Persian paintings, but, as the Buddha once said in another context, the picture is not in the colour, nor in the ground, nor in the brushwork; the principle cannot be described."21 We know the sort of work that Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad did in Kabul and Tabriz before they came to India and we are familiar with the traditional styles followed by the Indian painters who were employed in the imperial atelier, but we will never know the exact catalyst that produced this remarkably novel style. The Hamza project was first begun under Mir Sayyid Ali's leadership, upon whose departure for Mecca, Abdus Samad took up the mantle. But as one scholar has observed, "Abdus Samad was a conservative. His compositions are flat and decorative... human figures are relatively expressionless.... "22 One can hardly imagine such an artist, even though he was given the title of shirinqalam or sweet pen inspiring a new style as innovative as that of the Hamza. One is thus tempted to think that the emperor himself had something to do with it. Hamza was a favourite hero of Akbar and he must have taken a keen, personal interest in the project. Certainly the fact that the paintings were rendered on cloth rather than on paper gave them a more public dimension to be viewed in court rather than in private and such preference must be associated with the emperor. But more significant is the following observation of Abul Fazal which I feel is not simply another piece of flattery. In commenting about Abdus Samad, he wrote:
Though he had learnt the art before he was made a grandee of the Court, his perfection was mainly due to the wonderful effect of a look of His Majesty, which caused him to turn from that which is form to that which is spirit. From the instructions they received, the Khwaja's pupils became masters.23
Abul Fazal wrote this passage in the context of his thumbnail sketches of the leading masters of Akbar's atelier, and it is remarkable that he said almost nothing about the artist himself but emphasized how strongly he was influenced by the emperor. And indeed, what we encounter in the Hamza is not simply a new form but a new spirit which must have been "due to the wonderful effect of a look of His Majesty."
Literature was the passion of both Babur and Humayun, and, though Akbar was said to have been illiterate, his appetite for books was no less keen. He had epics and stories and poems read to him and displayed a far more catholic taste than both his father and grandfather. He was not simply interested in Persian and Turkish epics and romances, but also in the various Hindu texts, particularly the epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. He had these translated, copied and illustrated not merely to appease his Hindu subjects, but from a genuine desire to acquaint himself with the rich, religious literature of the Hindus. Indeed, it is rather curious that neither he nor any of his successors showed much interest in the more romantic Indian secular literature, whether of Kalidasa or of other great Sanskrit poets. Akbar also had a keen sense of his own destiny and history. One of his first tasks upon becoming emperor was to appoint Abul Fazal as his court historian to chronicle every detail of his reign. Fourteen clerks laboured in the Record Office established in 1574 chronicling the emperor's life with extraordinary precision. Had Akbar lived in today's electronic age, he would have probably sympathized with President Nixon's similar desire to record the events of his administration by "bugging" his own offices. In any event, like his own father and his Timurid ancestors, Akbar was determined to build an excellent library which is why the karkhana was established.
Among books of renown," wrote Abul Fazal, "there are few that are not read in His Majesty's assembly hail; and there are no historical facts of the past ages or curiosities of science, or interesting points of philosophy, with which His Majesty, a leader of impartial sages, is unacquainted."24 We need not wonder why poets and calligraphers flocked from western Asia to Akbar's court. Moreover, the practice of reading books in public must have had a salutary effect on his courtiers, both Muslim and Hindu, and contributed in no small measure to the renaissance of interest in painting in the country.
One of the finest manuscripts of the Akbari period is not unexpectedly the earliest Akbarnama, from which a scene showing Akbar hunting with cheetahs is reproduced here (M3). Although generally this manuscript is dated around 1590, it may in fact have been rendered closer to 1580. This particular picture was the joint creation of Basawan and Dharamdas, but the faces are less expressive than those one usually associates with Basawan after he became familiar with European work, as for example in his Baburnama picture (M6). Also, rather than representing a specific hunt the painters have given us a kaleidoscopic view with fluid eloquence. No amount of words, however, could make more vivid and alive the pomp and panoply of an imperial hunt than does this single picture.
A captivating painting from another celebrated Akbari manuscript, the Harivamsa (M4), is suffused with a different mood. We do not know who the artist was, but very likely Mishkin had a hand in it. A sequel to the Hindu epic Mahãbharata (known in Persian as the Razmnama), the Hanivamsa recounts the story of the family of Hari or Krishna. The text was translated and illustrated for the emperor around 1590, and although none of the pictures is signed, there seems no doubt that the leading artists had worked on this one as they had done on the Akbarnama. While the Harivamsa too has some excellent action pictures, this particular example creates a reposeful mood and achieves a lyrical quality that is simply pleasurable. The assurance with which the birds and animals are drawn, especially the two noble horses, the spirited rendering of the rocks and water and the manner in which the twins are isolated by a yellow patch that at the same time announces their divine effulgence, are some of the characteristics one can associate with Mishkin, one of the great painters of Akbar's workshop.
A literary work that every Mughal cherished was the memoirs of the dynasty's founder. A poet himself, Babur has bequeathed us one of the finest autobiographies ever written, whether by a prince or a pauper. Written in his mother tongue, Chagtai Turki, the Baburnama (M5-8) was translated at Akbar's request by Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan, an eminent and noble courtier, a poet and a great patron of the arts and letters. This translation was copied, bound and illustrated and presented to Akbar in 1589 (M5-7). Although several artists were involved in colouring the large number of paintings, all the outlines were done by Mishkin and Basawan. For instance, while Mishkin did the outline for the picture with flowering oleander, a young kiura and birds (M5), Bhawani was responsible for the colouring. The accuracy of such nature studies was due largely to Babur's own sensitive and meticulous descriptions of the flora and fauna in his memoirs. The visual equivalents therefore had to be precise, and perhaps for the first time the Indian artist was encouraged to observe nature before reproducing it. The Baburnama illustrations thus contain nonfigurative compositions such as M5, which are remarkable documents, both for the art lover and the naturalist.
Basawan's rendering of an historical event-a raid on the camp of the Hazara (M6) -reflects both the maturity of the Mughal style and this painter's extraordinary skills. The sense of surging movement, characteristic of the Hamza, is less tumultous in Basawan's work but equally energetic; the drawing is more refined; the expression of the participants more vivid and lifelike; and the colouring more sophisticated and vibrant. Basawan was indeed one of the great masters of Akbar's karkhana and Abul Fazal did not exaggerate when he wrote: "In backgrounding, drawing of features, distribution of colours, portrait paintings, and several other branches, he is most excellent, so much so that many critics prefer him to Daswanth."
A signature at the bottom of the third example of the 1589 Baburnama (M7) provides us with the name of Kamal Kashmiri. Very little is known about this artist but his name occurs on a Timurnama illustration in the Khuda Baksh Public Library at Patna. Thus there seems no reason to doubt the signature or the attribution, and it may be noted that, as in this instance, Kamal Kashmiri was also responsible for painting the Timurnama illustration by himself. He was obviously from Kashmir, but whatever his manner may have been in his native land, in the imperial karkhana he mastered the Mughal style as well as any of his colleagues. Both in terms of technique and aesthetic, this Baburnama painting is a classic example of the visual revolution achieved by the Mughal artists.
Whether by Kamal Kashmiri or not, the picture is a lively illustration of the occasion when Babur went to China-fort and took a trip on a raft. As he wrote so graphically in his memoirs:
Just where the Panjhir-water comes in, the raft struck the naze of a hill and began to sink. Rauh-dam, Tingri-Quli and Mir Muhammad the raftsman were thrown into the water by the shock; Rauh-dam and Tingri-Quli were got on the raft again; a China cup and a spoon and a tambour went into the water.
The same subject is also illustrated in the Moscow Baburnama25 but with less expressiveness. As we see in this picture, more than one raft was involved but what is more interesting is the greater sense of drama and excitement expressed in this version than in the Moscow example. The water is made much more menacing here; Babur and his companion display greater concern for their fallen colleagues; and the disorder and agitation of the accident are also conveyed by the two jackals in the foreground who were obviously taken by surprise.
The Baburnama was probably the most popular manuscript to have been copied and illustrated, and at least four versions are known. The two facing pages from another Baburnama (M8) not only demonstrate the minuteness in detail, the complexity of composition and the sureness of execution, characteristic of the mature Mughal style, but together they provide us with a vividly graphic picture of the pomp and ceremony of the Mughal court. As the enthroned Babur presents strands of pearls to Humayun, we are afforded an eyewitness view of the colour and bustle of a court that appears slightly out of control. Here a man is busy filling elegant cups; there a group presses upon the throne with weapons and standards; somewhere musicians provide music, while elsewhere, rather indecorously, a man ties his turban; someone has brought a falcon, while grooms lead Arabian steeds; yet others have brought baskets filled with textiles and richly encrusted daggers; and some are just hangers-on. Except for the fifth century Buddhist murals of Ajanta, no other pictures have captured the bustle and opulence of an oriental court with such vividness as have such Mughal representations.
The Akbarnama of 1604 (M11-12) is generally considered to be the last book of renown to have been produced at the time of Akbar for the emperor died the next year. Several of the detached illustrations were in more recent years given borders from later Persian manuscripts. Apart from such veterans as Mishkin, younger artists such as Daulat, Balchand, Govardhan and Mansur, many of whom attained fame under Jahangir, worked on this manuscript, but the paintings are often unsigned. Although accomplished, the pictures of this Akbarnama are not as exciting as those of the earlier manuscript (M3). Not only can one discern touches of less experienced hands, but the 1604 Akbarnama reflects signs of diminished vitality in the imperial workshop, as if like their aging emperor, the painters too were tired.
Be that as it may, in such historical manuscripts or in other pictures produced towards the end of Akbar's reign (M9, M11-12), we see new elements of style that cannot be explained in terms of a synthesis between the Indian and Persian traditions alone. Compared to the early Akbari books, those produced towards the end of the reign reveal greater technical virtuosity and psychological insights. Compositions became more complex and varied; perspective was better understood and the space within the picture was better organized; the landscapes were rendered more artfully; figures were more forcefully modeled; the brushwork was subtler and more accomplished; and the tonality reflected more sophistication. Even more importantly, stronger emphasis was now placed on individual characterizations, which were stressed in portraits and became even more intent and notable in Jahangiri pictures. Many of these achievements were due not to internal developments but to the artists' familiarity with external sources: European prints, engravings and pictures.
The European Connection
It was quite common for Mughal artists to copy European prints directly, as we see in two examples illustrated here (M13-14), or to adopt European pictorial devices freely (M15). Curiously most of the studies were of Christian themes which no doubt reflect both Akbar's and Jahangir's keen interest in the foreign religion. Indeed, many contemporary observers have remarked upon Jahangir's fascination with Christian subjects and the following passage by Guerreiro is particularly revealing:
Throughout the discussions of which we have spoken, the King always showed his deep regard for Christ our Lord. He also spoke very strongly in favour of the use of pictures, which, amongst the Moors, are regarded with abhorrence; and on coming from Lahor, and finding his palaces at Agra very beautifully decorated and adorned both inside and outside with many pictures which had already been completed, and others that were being painted, in a balcony where he sits daily to be seen by the people; nearly all these pictures were of a sacred character, for in the middle of the ceiling there was a painting of Christ our Lord, very perfectly finished, with an aureola, and surrounded by angels; and on the walls were some small pictures of the saints, including John the Baptist, St. Anthony, St. Bernadino of Sena, and some female saints. In another part were some Portuguese figures of large size also very beautifully painted.26
Unfortunately these murals in both the Agra and the Lahore palaces were destroyed by the more orthodox Aurangzeb.
One of the pictures (M13), based on an European original, shows a man being rescued from a band of brigands and may represent the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan. Interestingly, the men are dressed in Portuguese costumes, as indeed were figures in the palace murals as noted in the above passage by Guerreiro. As early as 1595 a Portuguese painter was introduced to Jahangir (then Prince Salim), and promptly the prince requested the artist to copy a picture of the Virgin which the Jesuits had brought with them from Goa, which had already become a leading centre of Christianity in India. The arrival of two Portuguese gentlemen at a European household is the subject matter of M15. Rather curious, however, is the prominent manner in which the artist has drawn the mother and child, as if copying the composition from a Madonna and Child, a subject that was especially popular with the Mughals. The Entombment of Christ (M14) is the second direct copy of an unknown European print. It is a good example with which to demonstrate Sir Thomas Roe's anecdote about Jahangir's fascination with such pictures. Apparently when Asaf Khan (M21-22) once showed Jahangir a miniature belonging to Sir Thomas, the emperor immediately summoned his chief painter and asked his opinion. According to the English ambassador "the fool answered he could make as good." Whereupon Jahangir ordered the painter to make a copy which was shown to Roe along with the original. Roe distinguished the copy with some difficulty since he had to compare both of them in candlelight. Nevertheless, the ambassador was suitably impressed and admitted that he could point out the differences only because they were "in arte apparent" and because he was a real expert who did not have a "common eye." Indeed, in the Entombment illustrated here, only little details, such as the rocks and sprigs of flowers in the foreground, the tiny birds in the sky, the formal clouds and the angels, reflect the Mughal touches that might easily have escaped the common eye.
The profound influence exerted by European aesthetic upon the Mughal tradition is well documented by a remarkably expressive depiction of a yogi standing in a rich landscape (M10). Except for his hair, the bearded face may well have been copied from a representation of Christ. It was not unknown during the late Akbari period for painters to introduce figures of European origin in unexpected places and manners, as was done with the mother and child in M15. However, with the exception of the solitary figure of the ascetic, which certainly dominates the composition, the picture is almost a pure landscape following European models. The organization of space, the thickly applied paint on the trees, the use of architecture in the distance are some of the elements borrowed directly from European pictures. The painting bears an inscription stating that it is the work of Bihzad. The name here must allude not to the fifteenth century Persian master but to one of Abdus Samad's sons, also called Bihzad. His most active period appears to have been the last two decades of the sixteenth century.27
Promise of Immortality
Nowhere are the sensitivity of the Mughal artist and his indebtedness to the European tradition more evident than in portraiture and in studies of fauna and flora. Once again we must be grateful to Akbar whose personal interest in his officers and nobles provided the incentive for introducing a strong measure of realism in portraiture. It is sometimes suggested that prior to the Mughals there was no tradition of portraits in India. This of course is unacceptable, but what is true is that due largely to Akbar's desire to recognize those portrayed and the introduction of European portraits, Mughal artists developed a tradition of portrait painting that was a curious admixture of fact and fancy. While the faces of the sitters were rendered with remarkable accuracy and expressiveness, the rest of the picture, including even the figure, especially of grandees and nobles, often followed certain established conventions that were meant to proclaim the stature of the dignitary. That Akbar himself was directly responsible in encouraging his artists to draw faithful likenesses is evident from the following observation of Abul Fazal:
His Majesty himself sat for his likeness, and also ordered to have the likenesses taken of all the grandees of the realm. An immense album was thus formed: those that have passed away have received a new life, and those who are still alive have immortality promised them.28
The above passage also makes it clear that like the tradition of portraiture, that of gathering pictures in an album was also initiated by Akbar; but both practices were to become more current under Jahangir.
A typical Mughal portrait shows a full-length figure standing and facing to his right. Fully clad in pajamas of bright orange, his long dress or jama is of a light diaphanous material which clearly reveals the outline of the lower part of the body. Much attention was given to the sash around the waist known as a patka and to the turban. Particular care was taken to emphasize the rich embroidered design of the patka as well as the gem encrustations of the dagger's sheath and handle. The background in early Mughal portraits was more often than not painted in a shade of green, rather flatly applied in Akbari pictures. In Jahangiri portraits the green was given a more interesting texture and often flowering shrubs were added at the bottom. Rarely are the figures empty handed: in one portrait (M16) a royal child holds a flower; elsewhere a prince is seen with an open book (M18); in a third the grandee supports himself elegantly with a sword (M19); and Jahangir's brother-in-law, Asaf Khan (M21) holds a bowl of fruits which, like a devotee before an image, he may have been offering to the emperor, who may have been portrayed on the facing folio.
While the body in such portraits is shown always in three-quarter profile, the head invariably offers a profile view. Occasionally, the face too was shown in three-quarter profile (M28-29), but, as a rule, the profile was the more preferred mode. The posture is always formal and somewhat stiff, though elegant and dignified. As it has already been noted, in contrast to the remarkably accurate rendering of the faces, the bodies were executed following a conventional formula. There was a distinct penchant for transparent skirts revealing rather heavy, rounded volumes of the buttocks, whether the portrait is of a male or a female (M20). One wonders if the billowing gowns of Elizabethan portraits had anything to do with this curious convention, or whether it was simply an affectation of the age.
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 NurJahan, the favourite queen of Jahangir (who became the de facto ruler during Jahangir's later years) that women became more popular as the subject matter of painting. Generally, the pictures of women did not differ fundamentally from the portraits of the courtiers, although one has no way of knowing whether the likenesses were true to life. A charming picture of a young woman of the Jahangiri period (M20) and a polished and voluptuous bust of a lady with bare breasts (M28) could well have been portraits of courtesans who provided entertainment for the emperors and their courtiers. If the princesses were kept hidden from the public view, the public women were certainly more available as models. And one can easily assume that their paramours, whether an emperor or a nobleman of the realm, would have wished to "promise immortality" to their favourite singer or dancer.
(M71), introduce us to the sort of "miniatures" which were inspired by English miniatures introduced by Ambassador Roe in 1615. We have already mentioned Jahangir's fascination with such miniatures, one of which was taken from Roe by Asaf Khan and shown to the emperor. Indeed, Asaf Khan is the subject of one of the Mughal miniatures illustrated here (M22), while a second portrays his father I'timad udDaula (M23), whose daughter Nur Jahan was Jahangir's charismatic and immensely powerful queen. Both I'timad ud-Daula and Asaf Khan were among the most important dignitaries of Jahangir's court and served successively as his prime minister. Both paintings were executed by Bichitr, one of the most brilliant Mughal portrait painters who was active under both Jahangir and Shah Jahan. A great craftsman, Bichitr's portraits are admirable for their refinement as well as their subtle characterizations and these two sensitively rendered miniatures are among his finest works.
Govardhan, the son of Bhawani Das, the man who coloured Mishkin's outline in M5, was as accomplished and perceptive a portraitist as Bichitr. While Bichitr confined himself to painting exquisite portraits of ministers and courtiers, Govardhan's repertoire shows a far greater variation, and he may well be regarded as the "mullah specialist." Two of the portraits included here are attributed by inscriptions to Govardhan. One (M24) shows an elderly mullah with his hands joined in prayer and standing imperiously like some of the princes and courtiers we have encountered. The second work (M25) is a more typical Govardhan composition with two mullahs, one of whom is identified as Maulavi Fazal Khan. Seated with their knees folded, the two are engaged in a serious discourse. Maulavi Fazal Khan is presumably the figure wrapped in a gray shawl and holding a rosary with his left hand. Noteworthy are the beautifully rendered flowers, the sensitively delineated hands of the figure wearing a brown coat and the two books in the foreground-all of which are quite typical of Govardhan's works. A third picture (M26), though not inscribed, may also be attributed to Govardhan, perhaps reflecting his later period when he used rich and thick colours and the modeling became so extreme that the figure seems almost released from the page."29 Govardhan's preference for grays and tans are evident in all three paintings, but in the Mullah and the Musician the intensely painted evening sky, as well as the oval format, clearly reveals how strongly Govardhan was influenced by the European tradition. Obviously the young musician is singing an evening raga appropriate to the occasion, for both singer and listener raise their eyes towards the sky as if they are going through an uplifting experience. Govardhan was particularly deft in expressing mood by making his characters interact with each other and their surroundings. Thus, even though he may have derived his fascination for mystics and mullahs from a Farrukh Beg or a Muhammad Ali, Govardhan excelled both masters in revealing an empathy for his subjects that make his renderings so humane and alive.
The strong naturalism of Govardhan's portraits of mullahs also characterizes a fine and subtly rendered study of An Ascetic by a Fire (M27). Although the painter is unknown, it remains a perceptive sketch of a holy man, a subject that had become a popular genre during the time of Jahangir. The posture of the ascetic is even more relaxed than those of the mullahs in Govardhan's pictures. It would almost seem as if the artist had quickly sketched his holy man from life. While in most Jahangiri portraits the figures are shown standing and striking rather formal postures, portraits done under Shah Jahan often depict the figures in more informal seated positions, as can be seen in the studies by Govardhan and in the representation of the ascetic. The sitters therefore not only appear to be more relaxed, but are also more lively and unaffected. Such Shah Jahani portraits appear to have served as models for the later court portraits of Pahari patrons.
Portraiture continued to interest both the artist and the patron after ShahJahan, as is evident from several examples reproduced here (M29-35). Five of these portraits (M31-35) were included in an album probably put together sometime in the early eighteenth century.30 What is noteworthy is that the background in these portraits was often left unpainted and the colours were lightly applied. Otherwise the portraits continued the conventions established in the first half of the seventeenth century, and, increasingly, Mughal portraits, like those of the Rajputs, reflected a stronger tendency towards idealization.
Two of the later Mughal portraits included here depict Timur (M32), one of the ancestors of the Mughals, and Babur (M31), the founder of the dynasty. Timur's portrait is remarkably like another painted around 1650 by Hashim, a gifted artist of the imperial workshop.31 Timur's is a more flattering and idealized portrait in which the nimbate emperor is shown enthroned and holding the dynastic crown with his right hand. Babur's portrait, on the other hand, is less heraldic and the emperor is seated on a humble carpet holding a book, perhaps a copy of his own memoirs, with his left hand. Obviously, here the painter was more interested in depicting the emperor as a literary person rather than as a conqueror. Babur's eyes have a dreamy expression and his contemplative mood is further emphasized by the gesture of his right hand. The other two members of the imperial family represented in this portrait gallery are Shah Shuja (M34) and Aurangzeb (M35), both sons of Shah Jahan. Born in 1616 Shah Shuja fought hard to succeed to the throne but fled eventually to Burma in 1660 and was never heard of again. Although unsigned, the portrait may have been done posthumously by Khemanand or Ilias Bahadur.32 Aurangzeb's portrait may have been rendered by the same artist who painted the India Office picture showing the emperor at a window piously reading the Koran.33 Both his furrowed face and his prominent stoop are expressive of a broken and disillusioned man in the twilight of his life, as Aurangzeb must have been before his death in 1707.
Marvels of Creation
The same perceptiveness and intensity with which the Mughal artists rendered their fellow men were also reflected in their depiction of both flora and fauna. Trees, plants, shrubs and flowers are everywhere, integrated into landscapes, used to enliven portraits or employed decoratively on the borders and mounts (known as hashiya). Even if all Mughal emperors were not keen nature-lovers like Babur or Jahangir, most loved gardens, as did their counterparts in the Deccan. The Deccani painters may have painted nature in a different style, but they shared with their Mughal colleagues a similar love and interest in trees, flowers, springs and fountains. For the Muslim the garden was not just a beautiful spot to spend a few hours a day admiring and communicating with nature-it was (and still is) a symbol of paradise on earth. Thus, not only were their palaces beautifully landscaped with formal gardens, but their mausoleums were invariably enlivened with equally attractive gardens.
Whether the Mughal artists depicted their trees and flowers as observed facts or as engaging designs, they always did so with both imagination and love. Landscapes in Mughal paintings are invariably a mixture of fact and fancy and even though the individual tree or flower may have been carefully rendered, their distribution in the composition was clearly the product of pure imagination. In this sense they combined the decorative use of plants, flowers, rocks and water of Persian paintings with the symbolic application of such elements in earlier Indian pictures. They further combined these elements with the naturalistic treatment of the European tradition to create their own formula and convention which then became typically Mughal. They borrowed whole segments of landscapes and views from sixteenth century Flemish or Italian painting and integrated them with conviction and aplomb in purely Indian settings (M10, M15). They added exquisitely rendered flowering plants (that were probably inspired in the first place by European herbals) to delicately painted portraits (M18, M20-21, M25) for sheer delight. And they filled their hashiyas with vines and flowers of gold and colours that often sparkled like jewels (M4, M24).
Undoubtedly, Mughal artists began looking at nature with a keen eye when they were called upon to illustrate the Baburnama. As it has already been stressed Babur 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 colour what the sensitive emperor had described in elegant prose. A second impetus toward the representation of nature was probably received with the arrival of engraved herbals, such as those by Pierre Vallet's Le jardin du trés Chrestian Henry IV of 1608, during the early years of Jahangir's reign.34 Jahangir too was as keen a naturalist as his grandfather and loved nature for its own sake as well as gardens. It has been suggested that the arrival of European herbals may have inspired Jahangir's "flower mania" on his visit to Kashmir in 1619.35 This, however, is unlikely for on an earlier visit he was just as excited by the natural beauty of Kashmir. In his memoirs he wrote:
From that place I marched to the village of Bhakra, which in the language of the same people is the name of a shrub with white flowers without any odour. From Tillah to Bhakra I marched the whole way through the bed of a river, in which water was then flowing, and the oleander bushes were in full bloom, and of exquisite colour, like peach blossoms. In Hindusthan this evergreen is always in flower. There were very many growing at the sides of the streams, and I ordered my personal attendants, both horse and foot, to bind bunches of the flowers in their turbans, and I directed the turbans of those who would not decorate themselves in this fashion should be taken off their heads. I thus got up a beautiful garden.36
Few passages in his memoirs are as evocative of the personality of this remarkable man as this is. We meet here a whimsical, willful and stern emperor, who was at the same time, a sensitive poet and artist, for he was looking at the flowers on the wayside with the eyes of a painter. No wonder on a later visit, when he may have felt that he may never return to the enchanting vale of Kashmir, he made Mansur copy all the flowers. In this way Jahangir could also promise immortality to these marvels of creation, which had given him so much pleasure in life.
Nothing demonstrates better the impact of Jahangir's personal taste on Mughal aesthetic than the magnificent animal studies produced by the artists in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. Although the Indians have always portrayed animals with great empathy, the Mughal painters achieved a new height of liveliness and realism, largely due to Jahangir's insistence on acute observation and his instinct for naturalness. While Babur was content in observing and recording his reactions in beautiful prose, Jahangir was more interested in having his artists recreate the animals that took his fancy in form and colour. The difference in their interests and attitudes was recorded by Jahangir himself:
One of the birds resembled a peahen, but was a little larger in size, though less than a peacock. When he was desirous of pairing, he used to spread his tail and feathers, and danced about like a peacock. His beak and feathers resembled those of a barndoor fowl. His head, neck, and throat changed their colour every minute; but when anxious to pair, he became a perfect red, and seemed to be a beautiful piece of coral. After some time, he was as white as cotton, and sometimes he got as blue as a turquoise, and in short turned all colours like a chameleon. The piece of flesh which is attached to his head looked like the comb of a cock. But the curious part of it was this, that piece of flesh, when he was about to pair, hung down a span long, like the trunk of an elephant, and when again restored to its position, it was erected over his head to the height of two fingers, like the horn of a rhinoceros. The part round his eyes remained constantly of a blue colour, and was never subject to change, which was not the case with his wings, which were always changing their colour, contrary to those of a peacock.38
It is doubtful if anyone has ever left so vivid and evocative an account of a turkey. This is hardly the dry and clinical description of a bird as observed by a naturalist with mere scientific curiosity. Behind the keen naturalist lurked a poet and an artist, for how observantly and sensitively has he described the variegated colours of the bird and how helpful are the comparisons with other creatures. Indeed, such masters as Abul Hasan and Mansur were clearly inspired by both the scientific acumen and the poetic insight of their master, and the result is that we have inherited a legacy of remarkable bird and animal studies that are as instructive as they are delightful.
Of the two extraordinary studies of camels included here (M36-37), the quieter domestic scene is certainly earlier. We do not know whether it was painted for Akbar or for Jahangir, though its accuracy and aliveness make it a picture worthy of Jahangir and his artist, Mansur, the acknowledged master of the age both in animal and flower studies. The other picture shows two camels interlocked in a deadly combat, the ferocity of which is graphically expressed not only by the bizarre contortions of their normally awkward bodies and gangly legs, but also by the viciousness with which each animal bites the other's legs. Although the two artists used different techniques of shading to indicate the animal's hair, that both were excellent draughtsmen is beyond doubt. It must be pointed out that it was more common to paint pictures of combating camels than scenes of domestic bliss in the camel world. Camel fights were a favourite pastime during the Mughal period, but this particular study and several others known were variations upon a theme painted by the Persian master, Bihzad.
Although not many of Mansur's studies of fauna have survived and only a few are actually signed, such was his reputation that it became customary in later periods to copy his works and attribute them to the master. The tendency even continues today with collectors who not only vie for his works but are quick to assign their own prized possessions to Mansur. None of the beautiful pictures of animals and birds included here is signed, but at least one-Studies of Mountain Goats (M39)-is very likely a work by the master. Mansur was noted for such perspicacious and enticing studies of animals that depend primarily on fluent draughtsmanship for their visual effect. The drawings on this single page are as lively as they are effortless and would probably have been admired by a Leonardo da Vinci who was just as ingenuous in his ability to express movements of animals.
The Emperor Babar has in his Memoirs given an able description and pictured representation of several animals; but it is most probable he never ordered the painters to draw them from life. But as the animals now before me were of such exquisite rarity, I wrote a description of them, and ordered that their pictures should be drawn in the Jahangir-nama with the view that their actual likenesses might afford a greater surprise to the reader than the mere description of them.37
Indeed the difference can easily be demonstrated by comparing animals and birds rendered by the artists of the Akbari atelier with those painted by Jahangir's painters. Mishkin was one of the finest Akbari artists, and in a painting attributed to him (M38) we see Laila and Majnu discoursing in the desert surrounded by the entire animal kingdom. One can easily pick out which animals were the result of familiarity and close observation and which were not. A glance at the animal studies (M36-37, M39-42), most of which were created during the reign of Jahangir, will make it clear that in every instance the artist had studied his subject with the intensity and fervour that could only be the result of a new interest in objectivity laced, however, with artistic imagination. The verbal counterparts of such visual accuracy may be encountered once again in Jahangir's own, meticulously detailed observations of a turkey cock which he noticed for the first time.
Perhaps the most widely admired of Mansur's animal pictures is a study of a zebra now in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. An inscription on the painting written in 1621 informs us that it was painted by Mansur for Jahangir when this exotic animal was brought before the emperor from Goa. Although another version of the picture illustrated here (M40) is not signed, it may well have been rendered by the master. Both pictures are remarkably similar and we know that occasionally Mansur painted more than one version of the same subject. However, although the most renowned, Mansur was not the only animal painter at the court. Others such as Abul Hasan and Manohar were just as deft in rendering animals with lively accuracy, but perhaps not with Mansur's perspicuity.
The two pictures of birds included here-one showing wild fowls (M41) and the other, partridges (M42)-are works of such accomplished virtuosity and seductive charm that whether or not they are the creations of Mansur, they must be regarded as productions of the imperial atelier. Summing up Mansur's characteristic economy in representing fauna, one authority on Jahangir pictures writes: He avoids unnecessary details or elaborate backgrounds, and uses only a few symbolic shrubs or boulders or a faint indication of the horizon, and sometimes to indicate the exact environment of the subject, an occasional tree or rocks."39 These comments are perfectly applicable to the somewhat stark but attractive picture of partridges, where the sparsely delineated shrubs indicate the more desert-like habitat of the birds. However, it must be stressed that this could be a picture based on a Mansur original. In the other picture, the self-confidence of the painter is evident in the way he has matched the surroundings with the vivacious and billiant colours of the birds themselves. The greens, yellows, blues and orange of the birds' feathers are echoed in the ground, the flowering plants and the sky. The birds themselves are rendered with the same finesse and elegance as a pair of peafowls attributed to Mansur.40 However, whether by Mansur or by some other painter, this picture of a pair of wild fowls remains among the most exhilarating of Mughal renderings of birds and animals, where objective naturalism was magically combined with artistic ingenuity.
The Apogee of the Style
Mughal painting reached its apogee under the discerning eye of the Emperor Jahangir. Jahangir began patronising artists even as a prince and some time in the 1580's established a studio of his own as distinct from the imperial atelier. Led by the Persian Aqa Riza, the painters in Jahangir's studio at first illustrated manuscripts in a strongly Persian style.
Two delicately rendered pictures, one of a prince resting during a journey or a hunt (M43), and the other of a lion hunt (M44), are fine examples of the type of Persianized style paintings produced by Jahangir's studio in the early part of the seventeenth century. Although not signed, M43 may well have been painted by Aqa Riza himself, or by a painter associated with him. However, the faces of the figures show stronger individualization than one would have noted in the Persian models. A study of a dervish (M46) was also clearly based on a Persian prototype, but was enlivened with subtle shading and a more expressive face displaying an almost wicked grin. This tilt towards contemporary Safavi style was, however, a passing fad, although it did leave its mark on Jahangiri pictures, especially in "the seductive human grace of the design, the cold fluency of the execution [and] the high polish of finishing. 41 The naturalistic tendencies seen in Akbari pictures were soon taken up again and refined further, due largely to Jahangir's keen interest in European works, leading to a more unified style. This may be best demonstrated by a spirited picture of Prince Salim hunting a rhinoceros (M45). When compared with the picture of the hunt from the Akbarnama (M3), one notes a greater restraint in the Jahangiri picture without, however, any loss of action or excitement. The composition is less crowded, the Persianized landscape elements are eliminated, and the viewer can focus on the hunt itself. Even though imaginary, the landscape appears more convincing and gives the impression that this is a specific hunt. There is a stronger sense of actuality in this lively picture and both men and animals are depicted with greater psychological insight. Indeed, the rhinoceros is so like a study of the animal by Mansur that one wonders if the master had a hand in this picture.42 Noteworthy is the motif of the cheetah attacking the deer in the foreground in both pictures; they seem to be almost mirror images of each other.
But for the albums of portraits prepared for the emperor, Akbari paintings were mostly limited to illuminated manuscripts, which, however, were of such divergent subjects that there was hardly anything under the sun that was not painted. In the true Timurid tradition Akbar had built the library which Jahanigir inherited and hence there was no urgent need to commission as many illustrated manuscripts as his father had done. Not a very patient man, Jahangir liked to see quick results and was much more intimately involved with his painters and their works than his father. He therefore preferred single compositions which could be bound in albums and admired within its own framework and context rather than within that of a narrative. Apart from the pictures themselves, he also loved miniature representations that were added to the elaborate hashiyas where some of the most sensitive renderings of lively flora and fauna, of elegant courtiers and of vignettes from everyday life remain a constant source of surprise and delight for the viewer.
The fact that the subjects were now chosen from life rather than from history and mythology provided the pictures produced for Jahangir with a spontaneity and immediacy that make the period come alive in a graphic manner. Even though Akbari pictures of historical works, such as the Akbarnama, depicted contemporary events with authenticity, they projected the emperor almost as a superhuman hero and the emphasis was more on a contrived sense of drama than on the actuality of the event. The imperial ego and the love for ostentatious ceremony continued to dominate official pictures throughout the Mughal period. However, Jahangir's interest in the people and world around him and in all the marvels of creation, his obsession with realism and his insatiable curiosity enormously widened the horizon of the artist and enriched his repertoire in an unprecedented manner. While Akbar bestowed immortality upon his noble courtiers and faithful followers, Jahangir's artists immortalized the courtier as well as the commoner, the mullahs and the yogis, the hunter and the hunted, the musicians and the dancers, the Bhils and the fakirs, the princesses and the dancing girls, the birds and the beasts as well as the plants and flowers. At no other time in India's long history have painters depicted the life of a period with such exactitude and variety as during the reign of Jahangir.
Thanks to Jahangir's connoisseurship, a great number of Mughal drawings have also survived. Although ancient Indian texts have always extolled the virtues of the finely drawn line in a painting, it appears that there was no interest prior to Jahangir in appreciating a drawing or a rapidly rendered sketch for its own sake. Mughal albums, however, often contained both drawings and tinted sketches, such as those illustrated here (M46-48), that are both lively and spontaneous. The sketch of the wrestler exercising with a bow (M48), lightly washed in sepia, was rendered in a technique known as siya qalam, which probably originated in Central Asia, but was favoured by both the Persians and the Mughals. Appreciation of drawings appears to have been popular mostly with Mughal patrons. Rajputs generally preferred more finished pictures, and Rajput drawings, which were mostly preparatory sketches and patterns, have survived in artist's families more by accident than by design.
Technically Mughal pictures under Jahangir reflect a greater degree of finesse and sophistication than earlier paintings. Shading was used ubiquituously to indicate substance, and rich modeling imparted a much greater sense of plasticity to both figures and objects. Not only can one sense the mass and volume of the figures, but their faces are more expressive and display stronger emotions. There was greater concern with psychological portrayal and the figures communicate with one another in a manner appropriate to the situation. Spatial perspective was treated in a more painterly manner, and landscape, no longer merely a backdrop, was deftly integrated into the picture with conviction and confidence. Doubtless, now and again, one comes across strange admixtures of Flemish landscape elements in the distant background with Persian style rocks that are purely conceptual, and flowers and foliage that are both imaginary as well as closely observed, but the intermingling was done with such self-confidence and finesse that the picture gained rather than lost its pictorial integrity and visual appeal. Another characteristic of Jahangiri aesthetic is the brilliant finish of colours, noticeable particularly in the works of Abul Hassan, Govardhan, Bichitr and others. The Mughal artists had a special word for this technique which was gudaz rang. The effect was obtained by several thick coatings of colours and after each application the painting was turned over and burnished, usually with an agate. As a result the colours acquired a lustrous quality and a satin-smooth finish which imparted to the surface a sense of dazzling brilliance.
A Pleasing Style
In 1626 an astute Dutch agent wrote home to his superiors: "Send us two or three good battle pictures, painted by an artist with a pleasing style, for the Moslems want to see everything from close by-also some decorative pictures showing comic incidents or nude figures."43 Little did the Dutchman realize that he was writing a succinct summary of Mughal taste in pictures for the next two centuries.
After the death of Jahangir, Mughal painting took no new direction. Shah Jahan was more interested in architecture and jewelry than in painting. Although he retained the workshop, it was much more attenuated; but masterpieces continued to be produced, basically in the style established under Jahangir, by such masters as Govardhan, Balchand, Manohar, Payag and others. Shah Jahan's pictures reflect the mannered elegance and opulence of the Mughal court with greater sumptuousness and accuracy than the earlier paintings. As Bamber Gascoigne has written,
Terry had described Jahangir as the 'greatest and richest master of precious stones that inhabits the whole earth,' and Shah Jahan had far outdone his father. He was so fascinated by jewels, reported Manrique, that even when there appeared before him after the banquet twelve dancing girls with all the allures of lascivious and suggestive dress, immodest behaviour and posturing, he hardly raised his eyes to them but continued inspecting the jewels with which he had been presented by Asaf Khan44
Not inappropriately has his famous mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, been described as 'a jewel in stone' for it is as much the work of a jeweler as it is of an architect. Indeed, the pictures produced under Shah Jahan do reflect his obession with cold, white marble and bright, sparkling gems (M26, M28, M50-52). The complexion of the figures in the pictures created in his workshop generally had a smooth, lustrous finish like marble, while the carpets, the architectural details, the thrones and the flowers were as delicately and minutely rendered as a finely crafted piece of inlaid jewelry.
We have already discussed one area, namely portraiture, where artists such as Bichitr and Govardhan continued to produce works of excellent quality. Other Mughal painters too, such as Balchand, Hashim or Payag reached their maturity during the reign of Shah Jahan. We do not know the painter responsible for the lyrical picture of the death of Farhad (M52). True, the picture lacks emotional expressiveness in terms of Shirin and her companions, but we are impressed by the painter's extraordinary flair for design, the fluency of his brushwork and the cool elegance of his colouring. The multi-hued rocks seem to invite us to enter this "candyland." Nor do we know who painted the sensitive and delicate picture of a deer hunt (M53), but it was to remain a favourite composition with later Mughal and Rajput artists (M62). The painter Payag may well have been responsible for the Prince Hawking (M51) and the sweeping and monumental composition of the betrothal of a prince and a princess (M54). Payag's mature style has been characterized as "flamboyant," an expression that is equally applicable to both the form and the content of this compelling picture.
Sub-imperial and Later Mughal Pictures
Patronage of the arts was not confined to the members of the imperial family alone. Inspired by their example, other princes and noblemen, and also ladies of the court, encouraged artists by commissioning manuscripts of historical and religious works as well as assembled albums of individual pictures. Perhaps the most eminent of such patrons was Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan, who was entrusted with Prince Salim's education by Akbar. Abdur Rahim was responsible for the superbly illustrated copy of the Ramayana, among others, now in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington.45 He may also have commissioned the 1595 Razmnama (M55). Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine any important courtier, who was a member of the charmed circle of Prince Salim (later Emperor Jahangir), who did not emulate his overlord without enthusiasm. The style of the paintings done for such patrons is generally characterized as "sub-imperial," and while some of the more eminent courtiers may have been able to persuade a few of the imperial artists to work for them on the side, usually they had to remain content with other painters. These Sub-imperial style pictures (M55-60) were sometimes rendered in a manner very close to the Imperial style, though perhaps less lavish in the colouring and generally not as accomplished. A other times, the sophisticated pictorial complexity of Mughal painting was eschewed for expressive simplicity, as we see in a battle scene from a Razmnama rendered around 1616 (M61), at a time when the Mughal style had reached its apogee. Notwithstanding the clusters of rocks and attempts at landscaping, the picture lacks a sense of depth as well as the feeling of drama or mood that is basic to the Imperial style. The figures are more like puppets performing mechanically rather than actors who are creating a convincing illusion for their audience.
Ragamala was a popular subject, especially with music lovers, both Hindu and Muslim. The expression ragamala literally means a "garland of raga," which is the Sanskrit word to denote a musical mode. Each mode has a distinct mood and a personality which was described in little verses which in turn provided the iconography for the painters. The theme was very much in demand and the pictures were placed in albums and were commissioned by connoisseurs of painting as well as music. An early seventeenth century picture of Gaudi Ragini (M56) reflects all the technical achievements of the Mughal style and very likely was painted by an artist familiar with imperial pictures. Pictures such as this Ragini or the Razmnama exerted considerable influence on the Rajput style.
Long before his death in 1707, Aurangzeb (M35) had considerably reduced the imperial workshop. An austere and orthodox man, he had little or no interest in the arts. Although his successor did revive the workshop, Aurangzeb's prolonged absence from Delhi during most of his reign forced Mughal artists to seek patronage elsewhere. Thus, we find them in the provincial kingdoms and their capitals, or in the Rajput courts, both in the plains and the hills. History does at times repeat itself. Just as the Persian monarch Shah Tahmasp's aversion to the arts had proved to be a blessing in disguise for the history of Indian painting in the mid-sixteenth century, so also a century later Aurangzeb's espousal of orthodoxy ushered in a new phase for Rajput painting.
There are no inventions or surprises in eighteenth century Mughal painting, either in terms of style or thematic repertoire. Few manuscripts were produced, and mostly, individual pictures were collected or commissioned and put together in albums, by princes, rich nobles and even by the British in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Since these albums contained earlier imperial Mughal pictures as well as those that were commissioned at the time the album was formed, they reveal the continued influence of the kind of connoisseurship introduced by Akbar and Jahangir. This sort of interest in the "old masters" of the Mughals was unthinkable in pre-Mughal India. The works of these old masters continued to dominate Mughal aesthetic during the eighteenth century and were even copied. Sometimes a later inscription was added to a picture to increase its aesthetic value. For instance, a charming picture of yoginis in landscape (M50), obviously a superb Shah Jahani painting, is attributed by a later inscription to the Jahangiri period and to the Akbari artist Kesu Khurd.
The style of the later Mughal pictures remained pleasing but became increasingly mannered, and the penchant for decorative pictures grew stronger. Outward elegance and technical finesse could still be witnessed in lavish "public-relations" pictures painted for the court, as in the delicately rendered portrait of a Mughal princess (M70), probably painted by Aqil Khan, but the vitality and the creative urge of the early Mughal style had diminished considerably. The twilight of the empire had set in, and pictures produced during the period generally reflect the vapid taste and whimsical as well as prurient interests of courts and courtiers who were thoroughly absorbed with the fleeting pleasures of a decadent way of life.
Even though Shah Jahan was devoted to his beloved wife Mumtaz in whose memory he built the celebrated Taj Mahal at Agra, he was no less a philanderer than other princes and emperors. As recorded by Bernier, rumours were rife during the period that he even had an incestuous relationship with one of his daughters. With the exception of Aurangzeb, most later Mughals appear to have lived for wine, women and song. Women had begun to play a greater role in the affairs of the state since the time of Jahangir. Not only did princesses and courtesans continue to dominate the passive monarchs and princes during the eighteenth century, but became, along with scenes of lovers and dalliance, a major theme in later Mughal painting. The increasing stature of women is indicated by the fact that in formal portraits (M70) queens and princesses were often given haloes around their heads. Pictures of nude women (M66) were especially favoured, as indeed were scenes in private apartments (M65, M67-68).
A prodigious amount of pictures were produced during the eighteenth century, even if no new stylistic peak was reached. There was a tendency towards the simplification of the style; compositions were less complex; space was more flattened and the colouring, less subtle and sophisticated. Despite their fine technique and their voluptuous prettiness, generally the pictures are conventional and cloying in their sentimentality. As Edwin Binney has written with reference to pictures of princes preoccupied with their primary passion (M73-74):
The specific has become the general, the trite. Even when the
prince.., is readily identifiable, as in the many portraits of courtiers or nawabs being entertained by musicians and dancing girls, convention has removed most of his life-force.46
Repeated ad nauseum, for example, are "the same terrace railing, the same fountains-falling into the same vista over a distant lake or river" whether a passive prince is being entertained by pretty women, or whether they are entertaining each other (M64-M68). Some of these conventions, however, were carried into Rajput pictures, where, in some local schools, they were suitably modified and freshly reinterpreted. The terraces and fountains of late Mughal pictures, the wonderfully colourful skies of Muhammad Shah paintings, the slender, provocative women of the Farrukh Siyar pictures were given a new life and expression by painters of Bundi, Kishangarh, Guler or Nurpur, however with different aesthetic sensibility.