Beautifying His beloved
Watercolor on Paper
Artist: Navneet Parikh
10.2 inches X 13.5 inches
Rajasthani miniatures betray considerable influence of Mughal art, which had attained a degree of perfection. Art in Rajasthan was encouraged ad promoted by feudals who liked depiction of their typical life pattern e.g. animal fights, processions, hunting scenes and scenes from the harem.The activities inside the palace and courts fascinated artists. They wanted to probe and portray that which was not common information. Most often it was their imagination. Beautifully put in multi colours, a prince who is regally dressed himself helps his beloved to adorn herself. He folds her hair in his hand and tries to tame them with a sarpech-like pin that she holds in order to hand it to him. She wears a ghagra and choli of rare colour combination and magnificent jewellery. Both the faces in profile look confident - he of his power and she of her beauty. Resting against bolsters, they compliment each other's qualities very well. Flowers fruit and jewellery boxes lie littered around them.The artist uses luminous colours for the protagonists and the foreground. Not wanting to overshadow its impact he uses tones of brown and gold for the background. The pillars and arches give testimony of good architecture and the golden engraving on the walls that of good craftsmanship. The entire scene is captured within a marble arch with appealing inlay work on the corners. This description by Renu Rana.
The Mughal school of painting runs parallel to the Mughal dynasty. It came into prominence in the sixteenth century, during the reign of king Akbar. It reached its zenith under the patronage of Akbar’s grandson – king Jahangir. The reign of the latter’s successor king Shah Jahan saw its decline and finally under the unsympathetic Aurangzeb it breathed its last. Indeed, as a school of art, the duration of Mughal painting was a limited one, extending only over approximately two and a half centuries. Actually, it has often been referred to as not exactly a school, but rather an exceptionally brilliant phase in Indian art.
The roots of Mughal painting lay in Samarkand and Herat, where under the patronage of the Timurid kings, Persian art reached its apogee. Babur, a descendant of Timur, and the founder of the Mughal dynasty, speaks of a person named ‘Bihzad’ as ‘a most eminent painter’. It was with the descendants of Bihzad and the deep personal interest taken by Akbar, the grandson of king Babur, that the Mughal school of art started off with a flourish.
Regarding the aesthetics of Mughal painting, one exceptional feature is its commitment to realism or the delineation of likeness. The subjects were majorly drawn from the extremely rich and magnificent court life under the Mughals. That this was a flourishing art during Akbar’s reign is borne out by the list of more than forty painters found in a book written during his era.
However, it was under Akbar’s son Jehangir that Mughal painting gained its highest peaks. Not only portraits and hunting scenes, but also scientific studies of botany and natural history found favor with the artists under the king’s support. The Mughal painters were asked to paint unusual specimens of flora and fauna in their exact likeness. Some of these skilfully painted pictures have survived till today, narrating to us the uniqueness of those rich times.
Under the reign of Shajahan, son of Jahangir, the Mughal school of painting entered its decline. The actual treatment of the subject matter is replaced with more decorative embellishments like rich flowery borders etc. Under Shahjahan architecture scaled new peaks (Taj Mahal etc.), but painting deteriorated. Finally, with the rise of Aurangzeb, Mughal painting breathed its last.