I don’t know much about Indian Miniatures, but – as they say – I do know what I like! I have always been fascinated by the extraordinary detail in these miniature artworks, which I have also admired in English miniatures of the sixteenth century.
During my first year of art college I saw an exhibition of the Sultan Suleiman Collection at the National Gallery of Victoria. (My friend Rapunzel remembered the name of the exhibition, but I am not sure why the collection was named after the Emperor of the Ottoman Empire.)
I was in awe of the incredible detail and the extraordinary patience it must have taken on behalf of the artists to create these pictures. On some of them every leaf on every tree was painted individually, and the equivalent of yards and yards of fabric were embroidered in paint. The colours are always so joyous and lively too – they sparkle like jewels, bedecked in gilt – some in fact incorporated pure beaten gold and precious gems.
… the equivalent of yards and yards of fabric were embroidered in paint
The art of Indian Miniature paintings can be traced back to the 6th or 7th century AD, evolving and influenced by other cultures over time. Unlike Western miniatures, Indian artists employed multiple perspectives in order to convey the idea that reality existed beyond a single vantage point. (Similarly the Egyptians paid little attention to realistic perspective, and showed people or objects from their most recognisable angle.)
Indian Miniature artists worked on paper, ivory panels, wooden tablets, leather, marble, cloth and walls, using pigments made from minerals and vegetables. Pieces were finished with burnishing to achieve an even, enamel-like lustre.
Here are some gorgeous pictures painted in my favourite warm, golden tones – landscapes of Arcadia.
Read more about the history of Indian Miniatures here. Click on images for sources.