Mughal Occidentalism

Artistic Encounters between Europe and Asia at the Courts of India, 1580-1630


In Mughal Occidentalism, Mika Natif elucidates the meaningful and complex ways in which Mughal artists engaged with European art and techniques from the 1580s-1630s. Using visual and textual sources, this book argues that artists repurposed Christian and Renaissance visual idioms to embody themes from classical Persian literature and represent Mughal policy, ideology and dynastic history. A reevaluation of illustrated manuscripts and album paintings incorporating landscape scenery, portraiture, and European objects demonstrates that the appropriation of European elements was highly motivated by Mughal concerns. This book aims to establish a better understanding of cross-cultural exchange from the Mughal perspective by emphasizing the agency of local artists active in the workshops of Emperors Akbar and Jahangir.

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Mika Natif Ph.D. (2006), New York University-IFA, is Assistant Professor in the Art History program, The George Washington University. A specialist in pre-Modern Islamic art, her publications addressed art book in the Persianate world and issues of image making.
List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Conventions
Brief Historical Background
Defining Mughal Occidentalism
Christian and European Elements in Islamic Art
Organization of the Book
Chapter One: Mughal Tolerance and the Encounters with Europe
Religious Tolerance under Akbar and Jahangir
Mughals and Europeans: The Encounters
The Challenge of Primary Sources
Diplomatic Gifts and “Special” Christian Articles
The Mughal Elite and Pictures of Mary and Jesus
Chapter Two: Mughal Masters and European Art: Tradition and Innovation
at the Royal Workshops
Copying and Innovation at the Imperial Workshops
Repurposing the European Masters
Chapter Three: European Articles in Mughal Painting
European Prints in Mughal Albums
Visualizing European Articles in Mughal Painting
The Organ: Plato Making Music
Chapter Four: Landscape Painting as Mughal Allegory: Micro-Architecture,
Perspective and ṣulḥ-i kull
The Mughal Interest in Topography
Chronology of Change in Landscape Representation
Images of Urbanism and Agriculture: Diversity and Prosperity
The Virtuous City and the Circle of Justice
European Techniques: Sfumato and Atmospheric Perspective
Chapter Five: Concepts of Portraiture under Akbar and Jahangir
Mughal Terminology and Praxis
Form, Essence, and Physiognomy
The Politics of Portraiture

All interested in cross-cultural interactions in the Muslim sphere; South Asian and European visual cultures; specialists in Persianate painting, Renaissance art, European prints; historians of India and Early-Modern period.

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