Mughal paintings is one of a most important topic in UPSC IAS examination as Art and culture is an inevitable portion in Indian history. The UPSC Prelims asks many questions from Art and culture and medieval history. The art and culture of India contain so many things like Paintings, music, architecture etc.

Mughal Paintings (16-19th century)

Mughal paintings are mixture of Indian, Persian, and European paintings. These paintings mostly are miniature paintings. Colours use are brilliant by Mughal painters. They are master in line drawing with accuracy. They also draw ornaments in their paintings. Various themes are there in their paintings and they use foresight technique.

Mughal paintings

Animals and plants

One of the popular subject area was realistic studies of animals and plants, mostly flowers. The text of the Baburnama includes a number of descriptions of such matter, which were illustrated in the copies made for Akbar. These subjects also had professional artists, including Ustad .

We can learn about Mughal period by step by step learning of kings of that time.


The most earliest example of the Mughal style is the Tutinama (‘Tales of a Parrot’) Painting. Indian Mughal paintings started during the rule of Mughal Emperor, Humayun (1530-1540). When humayun came back to India from the outcast, he additionally brought along two eminent Persian artists, Mir-Sayyid Ali and Abd-us-samad. Mughal paintings of India advanced as well as flourished under the reign of Mughal Kings, Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

Mughal paintings at the time of Babur

He has no time for painting because he was majorly engaged in the war. He patronage a Persian painter.


Humayun bought two Persian painters Sayyad Ali and Abdus sammad. So there is Persian influence in the Mughal paintings.

Painting by Abdul sammad


Akbar establish a separate department for painting. He starts the concept of Karkhana. In karkhana, Indian painters are also Invited that’s why there is indian influence in the paintings. Famous painters of that time are Dashwant, Baswan and Kesu. At Akbar’s time mostly are miniature paintings.They also makes 3D figures. Indian, Persian and European influence is also there. Use of calligraphy, for sighting technique prevail here. Theme of the paintings of Akbar periods are fairs and festivals.

Noor jahan's painting by dashwant Singh


In Jahangir’s period Mughal paintings reach at its climax. Jahangir was a naturalist. He prefer paintings on the theme of birds, animal and the elements of nature like flowers. He also started the portrait paintings. From his time decoration of margins also starts. He also has his own workshop for painting. One of the famous painter of that time was Ustad Mansoor. And famous paintings of that time are zebra, Turkey, Maulana do pyaaza.

Maulana do pyaza , Mughal paintings,


Shahjahan started too much use of Gold, silver and bright colours. He reduce the liveliness of paintings. At his time artificial look of the paintings prevails. This unnatural look shows European influence. At his time painters also started to draw pencil drawing and sketching.

Shahjahan Mughal paintings,


He discourages the paintings. He also disperse the painters from his court. Hence the concept of regional school started.

The period of Muhammad Shah did experience a less revitalization of the Mughal paintings. With the onset of Shah Alam II, the art almost became non-existent and new  school of painting, recognized as Rajput paintings, started developing

We will post about regional schools in our next post.

To know about miniature paintings click on this Miniature Paintings

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  1. Nice work…..keep it up..👍

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