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After The Great Mughals: Painting in Delhi and The Regional Courts in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Barbara Schmitz (Editor) Terence McInerney (Author) J P Losty (Author)
Synopsis Although the Study of painting under the Great Mughals is one of the most popular topics of Indian art historical research, scant attention has been given to the continuation of this tradition - the paintings and illustrated manuscripts produced at the Delhi court and various regional schools from the reign Bahadur Shah I in 1707 to the end of the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar in 1858. During this period, the government at Delhi became weaker with multiple invasions by the Persian and Afghan armies, and attacks by Rohilla, Maratha, and Jat forces. Court artists fled Delhi to the safety of new eastern capitals, at Lucknow or Faizabad in Avadh or Murshidabad in Bengal, and local schools with highly individualistic styles came into their own. Hovering over these schools of painting was the influence of patrons from the East India Company. This Marg volume addresses several important themes of the era: the development of the styles of major artists, such as Chitarman, Dip Chand, and Imam Bakhsh, and their influences on later Mughal painting; the proliferation of regional styles during these years; and finally offered are new appraisals of the European contribution to Indian art of these 150 years. This Marg issue is resplendent with colour and black-and-white illustrations of 'paintings in Delhi and the regional courts in the 18th and 19th centuries' which, incidentally, is the sub-heading of the book. One of the most impressive colour portraits of the Avadh school is displayed on page two of the volume, and features John Wombwell, a paymaster and auditor general to the Nawab's troops under British command. He sits smoking a hooka and gazing pensively out of an open door, while behind him an attendant waves a morchhal. This remarkable picture is reproduced in black-and-white once again within the book. It is the understanding of this art and its patrons in the transitional period between waning Mughal power and a rising British empire that the book has devoted its interest and scholarship. The English first started coming to Indian artists to paint subjects of interest to themselves in the second half of the 18th century. Today this type of work is called Company Art, and it includes some 300 natural history drawings made in colour in Kolkata. One exquisite example in the book is of an Indian blue jay bird. Other essays in the book include one on 'Articulating a Life, in Words and Pictures'. It is sub-titled, 'Begum Samru and The Ornament of Histories' and is written by Aditya Behl of the University of Pennsylvania.
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About the authors

Barbara Schmitz

Barbara Schmitz received her Ph.D. from The Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 1981. She is the author of three catalogues of Islamic paintings: Islamic Manuscripts in The New York Public Library (New York, 1992); Islamic and Indian Manuscripts and Paintings in The Pierpont Morgan Library (New York, 1996); and with Z.A. Desai, Mughal and Persian Painting and Illustrated Manuscripts in the Raza Library, Rampur (New Delhi, 2002). She has also contributed articles to Encyclopaedia Iranica and journals. Her interest in later Indian painting was supported by a Fulbright research grant to India in 1992-93.

Terence McInerney

Terence McInerney is an independent scholar based in New York. He has written a number of articles on the subject of Indian painting, and contributed to two recent publications: Devi: the Great Goddess (edited by Vidya Dehejia, 1999) and Intimate Worlds: Indian Paintings from the Alvin O. Bellak Collection (edited by Darielle Mason, 2001).

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J P Losty

J.P. Losty was the curator of Indian manuscripts and paintings at the British Museum and British Library in London for 34 years until his retirement in 2005. He has published extensively on illustrated Indian manuscripts and painting in India from the 11th to the 19th century. Some of his most important books include the groundbreaking The Art of the Book in India (1982), Calcutta: City of Palaces (1990), The Ramayana: Love and Valour in India’s Great Epic (2008), and Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire (with Malini Roy, 2012). More recent publications include catalogues of two important Indian collections of Company paintings, in the Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum in Hyderabad (2016) and in the TAPI Collection (2019).

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Bibliographic information

Title After The Great Mughals: Painting in Delhi and The Regional Courts in the 18th and 19th Centuries
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Marg Publications
Language: English
isbn 8185026564
length viii+168p., Plates; Notes; Index.