Painting during Mughals

  • The credit for the development of Mughal painting goes to Akbar and Jahangir. The former possessed a library of 24000 Manuscripts, many of which were illustrated through paintings.
  • The Mughal painting evolved from the Persian school of miniature painting with Hindu, Buddhist and Jain influences.
  • These paintings evolved during the rule of various Mughal Emperors in India. The paintings often revolved around themes like battles, legendary stories, hunting scenes, wildlife, royal life, mythology, etc. These paintings also became an important medium to narrate the tall tales of the Mughal emperors.


  • Akbar ordered the creation of many paintings and also paid close attention to the final output of all these artworks. He was very particular about the details and the artistic elements involved
  • Akbar had an impressive number of painters in his court. Between 1560 and 1577, he commissioned a number of massive painting projects. One of the earliest painting projects commissioned by Akbar was ‘Tutinama’ which literally translates to ‘Tales of a Parrot. ’There is Hamzanama as well.
  • Akbar and his successors brought revolutionary changes to painting and sensual illustrations. From this period book illumination or individual miniatures replaced wall painting as the most vital form of art.


  • Since Jahangir was largely influenced by European painting, he ordered his painters to follow the single point perspective used by European artists. This gave a whole new perspective to the Mughal painting.
  • Jahangir even used European paintings that portrayed the images of Kings and Queens as references and asked his painters to take a leaf out of these paintings.
  • As a result, most of the Mughal paintings commissioned by Jahangir had finer brush strokes and lighter colours.One of the major projects commissioned by him was the ‘Jahangirnama.’
  • Several individual portraits of Jahangir were also made by his painters. However, he also commissioned many paintings of birds, animals and flowers which were portrayed in a realistic manner.
  • Artists began to use vibrant colours such as peacock blue and red and were able to give three-dimensional effects to paintings

Shah Jahan

  • The paintings that were displayed in the court became increasingly rigid and formal. However, he commissioned a large number of paintings meant to be his personal collection.
  • These paintings were based on themes like gardens and pictures that gave great aesthetic pleasure
  • He also ordered many works that portrayed lovers in intimate positions. One of the most important works produced during his reign was the ‘Padshanama.’
  • Shahjahan’s eldest son preferred depicting natural elements like plants and animalsin his painting.