CAPF-AC (Assistant Commandant) Exam Study Material : History - Mughal Painting

CAPF-AC (Assistant Commandant) Exam Study Material : History - Mughal Painting

History : Mughal Painting

Mughal Painting

The Mughals introduced new themes depicting the conn, battle scenes and the chase and added new colours (Peacock blue and Indian red)

The Mughal pictures were small in size, and hence are known as ‘miniature paintings’.

Though the Mughal art absorbed the Indian atmosphere, it neither represented the Indian emotions, nor the scenes from the daily life of the Indian. It was mostly courtly and aristocratic.
A keen appreciation of nature was another characteristic of the Mughal school.
Remarkable excellence achieved by the Mughal school in portrait-painting.


The Mughal School of painting began with Humayun, who became familar with Persian art during his exile at the Safavid court.

The ruler, Shah Tahmasp was a great patron of painting, but gradually turned orthodox. Hence, many of his painters joined Humayun on his return journey to Hindustan.

The most renowned among them were Mir Sayyid Ali. Abdus Samad, Mir Musavvir’and Dost Muhammad.

Artists from Iran also made their way to Mughal India. Some were brought to the Mughal court, as in the case of Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdus Samad, who were made to accompany Emperror Humayun to Delhi.


  • Akbar was the real founder of the Mughal school. Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts. Akbar gave employment to many artists. A hundred and fifty or so are known since the illustrations in the manuscripts produced during Akbar’s Teign bear the names of the artists.
  • The chief painters were Mir Sayyid Ali, Abd-al-Samad and Baswan, a Hindu. Mir Sayyid Ali and Abd-al-Samad drilled the craftsmen in all the technical details of Persian miniatures. Many Indians such Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as court artists.
  • Early projects of Akbar’s reign include the Hamza nama, the story of Amir Hamza, an uncle of Prophet Muhammad, who tried to convert the world to Islam. The manuscript comprised of fourteen volumes, each having one hundred illustrations. At least fifty painters are believed to have worked on the project.
  • Among the major painters at Akbar’s court was Daswanth who illustrated the Razmana (the Persian translation of the Mahabharata).
  • After the Razmnama, Akbar’s interest shifted to historical works. Among the historical projects now sanctioned were the Tarikh-i-Alfi (a history of the first thousand years of Islam) and the Timur Nanza an illustrated account of the life of Timur.

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