For centuries in the Islamic world, books have been treasured as precious objects worthy of royal admiration. This was especially true in Muslim India, where generations of Mughal emperors from Babur and Humayun to Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Awrangzeb commissioned and collected volumes of richly illuminated manuscripts and lavishly illustrated folios. They assembled workshops of the leading artists and calligraphers to produce the books that filled their extensive libraries. Today, those works remain a vibrant part of India's cultural and artistic history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
In this revised and expanded edition of his popular 1981 book. Dr. Milo Beach presents the superb collection of Mughal painting in the Freer Gallery of Art. He adds many of the outstanding works that entered the collection with the opening of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 1987. Together the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art, have the distinction of being one of the world's leading repositories of Mughal art.
The introductory essay examines the Mughal art of the book and traces the contributions of a succession of rulers in Muslim India. To establish a broader context for these manuscripts and albums, pre-Mughal images, paintings from the Deccan and works from the later British period are included. Full color illustrations in the catalogue section welcome close examination of the colorful and intricate details that enliven these folios. Brief artist biographies and an extensive bibliography complete this updated volume.