Mughal Paintings



Mughal paintings of India date back to the period between the 16 th and 18 th century, when the Mughals ruled a large part of the country.

The art of Mughal painting was introduced by the Mughal emperor Humayun , when he returned to India after his exile in Persia. He invited two Persian artists, Mir Sayyid Ali and Abu-us-Samad to return with him. The Mughal paintings that developed from this influence are a keen blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles.

Mughal painting reached its acme during the reign of Akbar, and also flourished during Jahangir's rule, as well as Shah Jahan's.


The most popular themes with the Mughal artists were portraits, court scenes, hunting events and depictions of battle. Most of the painting was in the form of miniatures , and book illustrations.



During Akbar's rule, painters created beautiful paintings that depicted scenes from Hindu epics, and animal fables as well as portraits. A few famous paintings of this time are the Kalilah-wa-Dimnah and Anwar-e-Suhayli.

The art of Mughal Painting was further refined during Jahangir's time. The brushwork now became finer and the colors were no longer as dark as those of Akbar's rule. The paintings of the time depicted events from Jahangir's life and scenes of nature, as well as individual portraits. The King's biography,Jahangirnama also contains several Mughal paintings.

During Shah Jahan's reign , the themes explored included scenes of lovers meeting, musical parties and paintings of ascetics. Unfortunately, however, the style began to become rigid.

Shah Jahan's successor, Aurangzeb was not an art patron. This dealt a further blow to Mughal painting. However, since it had gathered significant momentum in its initial stages, it continued to survive, though its end was impending.

By the time of Shah Alam II (1759-1806), Mughal painting ceased to retain its former glory. It was soon to be overtaken by the Rajput school of painting.

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