Tags for: Indian Painting of the 1500s: Continuities and Transformations
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Indian Painting of the 1500s: Continuities and Transformations

Friday, March 7–Sunday, September 7, 2025
Location:  242B Indian Painting
Free; no ticket required

About The Exhibition

When the 1500s began, the dominant style of Indian painting was flat and abstract with a limited, mainly primary color palette. By the 1520s, a new style emerged with greater narrative complexities and dramatic energy that was to be foundational for later developments. Concurrently, some artists began working in the pastel palette and with delicate motifs reinterpreted from Persian art. 

Then, around 1560, with the exuberant patronage of the third Mughal emperor Akbar (born 1542, reigned 1556–1605), artists from different parts of the empire and trained in a variety of Indian styles came together in a new imperial painting workshop. The workshop was led by Persian masters brought from the imperial court in Iran. The formation of Mughal painting shaped by Akbar’s taste for drama and realism had a lasting impact on the cultural life of India. With its naturalism and vibrant compositions, the revolutionary new style was distinct from its predecessors, both Indian and Persian. The paintings in this gallery trace the dramatic changes that occurred during the 1500s alongside compositions that artists chose to retain and reinvent. Central to this story is a manuscript of the Tuti-nama (Tales of a Parrot)an illustrated collection of fables made for Akbar around 1560–65 now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.