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Mughal Painting: Indian Miniature Paintings

DATES August 01, 1989 through November 06, 1989
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  • August 1, 1989 Mughal Painting, an exhibition of 30 works from The Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection of Indian paintings, opened August 18 and will remain on view in the Indian Painting Gallery, located on the second floor, through November 6, 1989. The exhibition comprises examples from the 15th century pre-Mughal period through the imperial Mughal era, to the 19th century and subsequent emergence of provincial styles of Indian miniature painting. The works illustrate scenes from festive theatrical spectacles, royal pastimes, feasts, and hunts as well as portraiture.

    When the Mughal rulers first came to India in 1526 there already existed an indigenous painting tradition. The diversity of these contemporary non-Mughal schools are best illustrated in the Hindu, Jain and Sultanate paintings on view in the exhibition. The distinctive Mughal style of painting evolved in the mid-16th century under the patronage of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) and is perhaps the best known of all the Indian painting traditions.

    The greatest illuminated manuscripts commissioned by Akbar are the visually striking folios known as the Hamza-nama, originally filling 14 volumes and each supposedly containing 100 paintings. These were monumental works that echo the turbulent period between 1562 and 1577, when they were believed to have been executed, and recount legendary tales of Iranian origin filled with miracles and magic centered around the hero, Hamza. Of the paintings, only about 150 have survived. The exhibition contains two of four Hamza-nama paintings from The Brooklyn Museum’s collection, which are all in a superb state of preservation.

    Mughal Painting was selected and organized by Amy Poster, Curator of Asian Art, with the assistance of Usha Ramamrutham, Research Associate for Asian Art. It is the first in a series of exhibitions that will reveal the Museum’s complete collection of Indian paintings, which number more than 400 works. The series will culminate in the publication of a catalogue raisonné written by Ms. Poster.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 1989, 109-110.
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