MUGHAL PAINTING
It was in Jahangir's reign (1605-27) that Mughal painting reached its greatest height of accomplishment. We miss some of the intense movement, the bustle and hurry which the mainly narrative purpose of the miniatures of the preceding reign had often evoked, with varying success; and this change is reflected in a tendency to rectilinear design. The painters arc, however, if less daring, much more practised in technique. The earlier crudity of colour gave place to a surer taste, producing luminous effects of striking beauty, while the line gained in subtlety and strength. The Emperor, whose passion for field sports and the wine-cup was accompanied by a genuine aesthetic strain, as appears clearly from his Memoirs, was profoundly affected by the beauty of the natural world, and had an artist's eye for the grace of birds and animals. He prided himself, as his European visitors tell, on his judgment of the work of his artists, on some of whom he bestowed titles, raising them above the lowly status to which custom assigned them. One of them, Mansur, made many sensitive and minutely detailed bird and animal studies, a number of which still exist. But it is in portraiture that the painters of this reign above all excelled, and it was through portraiture no doubt that the Mughal miniature became, partly at least, emancipated from the manuscript. Some of the portraits and portrait groups were embellished with broad margins, exquisitely adorned with flower patterns or representations of animal and hunting- subjects or scenes of contemporary life. Entertainments, incidents of the chase, every aspect of the Emperor's life, on journeys, in the Zenana, or paying a visit to a holy man; Durbar and processional scenes, with every person present truthfully portrayed—such subjects are the most characteristic productions of the reign. It was here that Western conventions for the literal representation of reality doubtless made their appeal. In design, too, now much more satisfying, often indeed masterly, the organic structure of European example had marked effects, though the old tendency towards symmetry is never altogether eliminated. 'Influence' apart, there is real sensibility, real creative power, irrespective of mere technical skill, in the best work of the time.

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