Originating in South Asia and heavily influenced by Buddhism, Hindu, and Jain, Mughal paintings are most often used as illustrations in books, kept in albums or displayed as a larger set. These specific types of miniature paintings were developed between the 16th and 19th century during the Mughal Empire.
Initially drawing inspiration from the Sultanate of Delhi, the first Mughal emperor to begin commissioning these paintings was Humayun. His first was actually not miniature at all, although it is one of the better known Mughal paintings: the Princess of the House of Timur. The emperor brought back artists from Persia and went on to commission 36 different pieces as well as two other personal Mughal paintings showcasing himself and his family. His largest commission was called the Khamsa of Nizami.
What started with Humayun became a longstanding tradition of intricate artwork during the Mughal Empire, with the three subsequent emperors after Humayun working diligently to expand and enhance the legacy of Mughal paintings. Some of the greatest artists during that time were Abdus Samad, Mir Sayid Ali, Kesu Das, Govardhan, Miskin, and Bhawanidas.
Today, miniature paintings in the same style are still created, albeit at a much smaller rate. Most new paintings come out of Jaipur, where Mughal-style paintings of the replicas of the great pieces of the past as well as modern originals are executed with finesse as good as the artists of the past. Of the newer works, composition is split between traditional scenes and more contemporary themes, and made by recognized and celebrated artists of today such as Saif Uddin and his brother Rafi Uddin.
View an art gallery of Mughal Miniatures.