PAINTING OF THE DECCAN
The Ahmadnagar style also spread to Bijapur, which quickly evolved a lovely version of its own. It is best represented by a noble portrait in the Bikaner Collection, which may be dated about 1600. The subject is probably the young king Ibrahim II himself. Though a miniature this picture achieves a grandeur by the beautiful placing of the central figure. Its rich texture is due to the alternation of passages of brilliant Flemish detail and areas sombre or unworked. An impressive study of an elephant is probably also by the hand of a Bijapur artist. This splendid animal may well be his much-prized Chanchal which Ibrahim was prevailed upon to present to Akbar. Ibrahim was careful to remain on good terms with the Mughals. He sent an ambassador to Jahangir's coronation in 1605, and later, in 1612, 1614 and 1618, made his formal submission—a meaningless gesture but pleasing to the Emperor. Portraits are said to have been exchanged, and were, no doubt, assessed by the royal connoisseurs. And it may have been in emulation of the Mughal style, whose naturalistic modelling now bore the strong impress of European painting, that Ibrahim's artists produced from about 1615 to his death a small group of portraits which represent the culmination of the Bijapur style. But whereas the Mughal portrait makes its impact by dazzling technique, in Bijapur naturalism remains subservient to imaginative composition and poetic content. The finest of the Bijapur group is undoubtedly the portrait of Ibrahim in the British Museum. The gold, violet and rose finery of the solitary figure, the mystery of the dark landscape with its small delicate flowers and glinting creepers, the softly-lit castle, all combine to express a quiet melancholy which is reflected in the sensitive face of the king himself. A comparison with the matutinal freshness of the famous miniature by Nicholas Hilliard of 'A Young Man leaning against a Tree', painted but a generation earlier, is inevitable. One recalls the painter James Story who left England in 1583 with the audacious Ralph Fitch on the 'Tiger' immortalised by the witch in Macbeth, and setting up shop in the town of Goa, which had been snatched from Bijapur by the Portuguese in 1510, "had good store of work''. Indeed, whatever there was of European technique or vision which appealed to the Bijapur artist, may well have come direct from Goa rather than at second hand from Mughal painting.

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