Overview for Mughal Painter of Flora and Fauna: Ustad Mansur
This volume follows Mughal Painters and Their Work--A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue (Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1994), the first comprehensive book of reference on the work of nearly 200 Mughal painters; and has been conceived to provide readers much more information on the Mughal painting through the contribution of individual master painters. Need not say ample information is available about the artists of the Mughal atelier (sixteenth-seventeenth centuries). Yet, to date, except for some articles on a few painters, no book has been published on individual artist. Ustad Mansur, a keen observer of nature endowed with almost Euclidean intellect, deserved a more detailed study to re-evaluate his merit as an artist whose achievement in naturalistic portraiture of a large number of species from the world of flora and fauna has remained unsurpassed till today. Our attempt is to enter into the very creative process of this great Mughal painter; to relive in his times and environment, in order to discover real Mansur. The whole panorama of Mansur's portraits of birds, animals and flowers set in marvellously and uniquely laid background represents, in his true spirit and characteristics, the very quintessence of nature's endless variety of creation and beauty. Part I provides historical and artistic context in which Ustad Mansur worked. Information about him has been gleaned from original texts (principally Persian historical sources), supplemented by the evidence of artist's own work. Part II comprises the plate section of representative eighteen miniatures that illustrate our painter's style and his specialization in painting. The appendix further enhances the value of this work since it provides correct rendering of contemporary inscriptions and determines genuine signatures and contemporary ascriptions. The volume is richly illustrated with a large number of black-and-white and colour illustrations. These illustrate the art and style of Ustad Mansur Nadir u'l Asr (Unequalled of the age), the most illustrious naturalist painter of India. It will naturally be of interest to students of art and natural history. It is also recommended to persons curious to know about the Mughal times.
Som Prakash Verma (Author)
Professor Som Prakash Verma (b.1942), an art historian, at present at the Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University, has written two books and has also contributed to scholarly and art journals. His art and Material Culture in the Paintings of Akbar's Court published in 1978 may rightly be said to be the first authentic treatment of art as a source of history by an Indian scholar. His volume, Mughal Painters and Their Work- A Biographical Survey and Comprehensive Catalogue, has been published in 1994 by the Oxford University Press, New Delhi. This is a very important work of reference, indispensable for students of Mughal painting. He has edited Art and Culture (Felicitation Volume in Honour of Professor S. Nurul Hasan) jointly with Professor Ahsan Jan Qaisar (1993); and is the Guest-Editor of the Marg Volume: Flora and Fauna in Mughal Art (forthcoming). Professor Verma is a practicing artist as well. He is the recipient of two prestigious awards by the Indian Academy of Fine Arts, Amritsar (1981) and the Academy of Fine Arts, Calcutta (1982); and his paintings are known in the art galleries, government and private art collections in India and abroad. The exhibitions of historical miniatures (reproductions) prepared by him: (1) Everyday Life and Work in Mughal India (1984), (2) Medieval Technology-Illustrations from Indian Art (1984), (3) Wild Life in Mughal Painting (1985), (4) Medieval Indian Architecture (1986), and (5) The Life of Akbar as Illustrated in Contemporary Miniatures (1992) provide invaluable data on Indian society, culture, art, architecture and technology. At present these are lodged in the Seminar Library, Department of History (AMU). In 1986-7, Professor Verma worked at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, and Washington, D.C. as a Fulbright Fellow.