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Patronage and Productions of Paintings and Albums in 18th-Century Awadh

In: Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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Abstract

During the 18th century, Faizābād and Lucknow became strategic centres of painting production in Northern India. Encouraged by the patronage of European collectors, but most probably by unnamed Indian patrons as well, the region experienced an intense period marked by the large number of albums and paintings in circulation. Based on the in-depth analysis of a selection of albums, paintings, and manuscripts, this article aims to highlight the evolution of compilation practices and painting productions. Full-page flower paintings, in particular, became increasingly popular in muraqqaʿ, to the point where calligraphic panels were completely replaced by colourful plants. Floral designs also appear in the margins, and the repetition of motives and patterns on several pages of different dimensions revealed an extensive commercialization based on a standardized production. In addition, the collections of European collectors such as Antoine-Louis Polier and Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil bear the traces of commercial transactions between European and Indian collectors, as well as prices and possession marks. Together with their writings, correspondences, and memoirs, they bring new information on previously unknown Indian collectors, and more generally on the dynamism of the 18th-century book market.

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