City in a Landscape
Unknown artist, Indian
City in a Landscape, ca. 1600-1625
Ink and color on paper
Image: 8.3 x 10.2 cm (3 1/4 x 4 inches)
Museum Appropriation Fund 17.457
In 1580, the Mughal emperor Akbar (reign 1556–1605) received an embassy of Jesuits, and this small, carefully rendered watercolor is an example of the subsequent influence of European art on Indian painting. Stronger blues in the foreground become fainter in the background, expressing spatial recession through a European device. Shading and outlining create more dimensional representations than in earlier Indian images. The walled city is also an Indian-European hybrid, featuring houses with gabled roofs that would not have been indigenous.
In the early sixteenth century, the Turko-Mongolians of Fergana, Central Asia, conquered much of northern India and established the Mughal Dynasty. In 1580, Emperor Akbar (reign 1556—1605) received an embassy of Jesuits. The artwork they brought began a lively cultural exchange. This drawing reflects devices adapted by the Mughals from European art: greater emphasis on mass; shading to render modeled forms; and more convincing recession of architectural and landscape elements through perspective, color, and line. The city in a landscape combines Islamic and European architecture with the native domed Hindu and Buddhist shrines of northern India. Fusing these formal and architectural elements with Mughal painterly and pictorial conventions, such as the expressive rock forms, the artist created a distinctive mode of representation.
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