Mughal Painters and Their Work: A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue

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Oxford University Press, 1994 - Art - 438 pages
The Mughal school of painting (mid-sixteenth to seventeenth centuries) produced a body of work of great distinction. This is the first comprehensive book of reference on the work of the nearly 300 Mughal painters whose names are known to us.The painters who worked in the court ateliers of Humayun, Akber, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, often produced work in collaboration. Unlike artists of the European Renaissance tradition, they did not as a matter of course sign their names on their work. Hence the inscriptions that exist on paintings ofthe period require careful scrutiny to determine whether they are genuine signatures or merely contemporary ascriptions. The key to this lies in the form of the inscription: only if the name is accompanied by a ritual phrase of self-abasement such as "thin humble slave" or "dust at the foot of theemperor", can it be taken to be a signature. This convention has not been sufficiently recognized, and in several cases, attibutions have been erroneously made to artists on the basis of their name alone appearing on the painting. Hence, the correct reading and interpretation of the inscriptionsis of central importance to our knowledge of the work of the painters of this school.This catalogue provides, in addition to the standard categories of information on each painting, a scholarly and informed assessment of all the inscriptions on the paintings, several of which are published here for the first time. All inscriptions are given in transliterated form wherever possible;in those cases where the author has not had access to the painting, the published version is provided even if only in translation. All paintings that have been signed by the artist, or are ascribed to him in contemporary inscriptions, are listed under the painter's name in chronological order.Unsigned paintings, or those without a contemporary endorsement, have not been included, unless respectable scholarly opinion has assigned the work to an individual. However, all such attributions are accompanied by a query against the entry. Many ascriptions, till now accepted as being genuine,have proved on closer scrutiny to be either forged or later than the date of the painting.Information about individual artists has been gleaned from original texts (principally Persian historical sources) and is placed together to reconstruct biographical sketches which introduce each entry; this is supplemented by the evidence of the artist's own work.Part I consists of an Introduction which acts out the scope of the catalogue, and provides a historical and artistic context for the work of these painters. Part II contains the catalogue, and is followed by a plate section (Part III) of over fifty miniatures that illustrate the development of theMughal school. The Bibliography, glossary and two indexes further enhance the value of this indispensable reference work.

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Contents

The Mughal Atelier
7
Collaboration and Specialization
19
Artists Portraits
27
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Som Prakash Verma, Professor, Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University.

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