By the 15th century the kingdoms of Gujarat, Malwa and Jaunpur emerged as important centres of art.

Paintings in medieval India entered a new phase under the Mughals.

The Mughal paintings are defined by the styles and subjects popular at the imperial court.

The early origins of the Mughal School of painting can be traced to Kabul.

During the reign of Humayun two Persian artists, Mir Syed Ali and Abdus Samad were patronized.

Akbar deputed them to illustrate manuscript of Hamzanama.

This manuscript of 1,400 pages was compiled by artists drawn from Gwalior, Gujarat, Lahore and Kashmir.

Many paintings of this period are collaborative efforts with two or even four painters working on one painting.

Among the important features of the paintings of this period are restricted movement of the figures, fineness of lines of drawings and flat depiction of architectural columns.

The Mughal paintings are also marked with a naturalism and rhythm, the clothing of the objects assumed Indian forms and the use of subsidiary scenes in the background.

The two most common themes in Mughal paintings of this period are specific events in the court and the portraits of leading personalities.


During the reign of Jahangir there were other changes in the style of Mughal paintings.

The paintings of the Jahangir period accentuate a formalist style and have broad margins which are well decorated with the depiction of flora and faces of human figures, the naturalistic representations matured during the reign of Jahangir.

The use of trees, birds, streams and rivers in the backdrop of the paintings became very popular.

There are interesting scenes of love and portraits of women members attached to the royal court in Mughal paintings of the Shah Jahan period, while the paintings of the Aurangzeb period provide glimpses of the Mughal emperor during his campaigns.

As in architecture the Mughal paintings also gave way to the growth and development of regional styles that tried to replicate the same features and characteristic decorative designs.


Rajput paintings that are also of the same period consist of various different court styles, corresponding to the various Rajput kingdoms.

The Rajput paintings during the 16th and 17th centuries used many representations of mythology and of court scenes.

The other styles that were popular were the regional styles of the Deccan and the regions of Bengal, Gujarat and Orissa.

The Rajput paintings further flourished in the eighteenth century when many of the artists shifted to the courts of their new patrons.

This also coincided with the emergence of many smaller regional styles of paintings.

These paintings are known for the intensity of the colours that they use and depict hunting scenes, portraits of individuals and of musical sessions.

The main styles of this painting were the Mewar, Bundi and the Kishangarh schools.