The Majestic Eagle
The eagle is the king of falcons, the most intelligent as well as the most stubborn of the lot. It is as strong as it is large, with a temper that puts the finest of falconers to the test. They say a falconer who flies a hawk is identified by the scratches on their wrist; the one who flies a vulture, by the injuries on their upper arm; and the one who flies an eagle, by the eye-patch. Indeed the eagle is a creature of indomitable spirit - unforgiving, unyielding - that knows nothing but to have its own way.The fine painting that you see on this page depicts a majestic eagle perched on a green velvet cushion. Its plumage is a blend of tawny and blue, the details of which have been introduced to the composition using superfine brushstrokes. Its pristine breast and neck are turned away from the foreground as it stares into the distance with its keen, aquiline gaze. Note the expressive curve of its golden beak and the lifelike curvature of its tawny claws.
Miniature Painting On Paper
Artist Kailash Raj
6.5 inches X 9.5 inches
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.