The Realm of Kings
Most surviving early Indian art is religious in inspiration, and
much of it was commissioned by kings. Commissions were often initiated
by a rulers’ devotion to particular deities. With the arrival
of the great Muslim emperors (the Mughals), the predominance in
art of religious ideas and objects was diminished. During the time
of the early Mughal emperors in the late sixteenth to early seventeenth
century, artists began to create remarkable works based on careful
and sensitive observations of human, animal, and plant life. This
revolutionary pursuit of naturalism, rather than idealized portraiture
and court reportage, was imitated and modified at most Indian courts.
While this approach also appealed to the Hindu Rajput rulers, their
painters placed more emphasis on idealized images of life.
Together with sumptuous techniques in the decorative arts, Indian
paintings provide a rich record of royal life in all its guises
from the sixteenth until the late nineteenth century. Eventually,
Western pictorial influences and the novel art of photography prevailed,
and traditional paintings were relegated to secondary status.