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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Court arts in Mughal and Rajput North India

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

This course examines aspects of the visual arts of South Asia in the early modern period from c.1500 to 1750, a period dominated by the Mughal empire at its height. The material addressed will be equally balanced between architecture (palace, mausoleum, mosque, temple, city) and painting, and between the Mughal court and the various Rajput courts, especially Mewar and Amber/Jaipur.  

1. Al Hind: the arts in Sultanate India.
2. Early Rajput painting and architecture.
3. Akbar’s court and the foundation of Mughal painting.
4. The Mughal palace: Fatehpur Sikri and Shahjahanabad.
5. The Mughal art of death: the Taj Mahal.
6. Portraiture, albums and the diplomatic gift at the Mughal court.
7. Painting the Ramayana in 17th-century Mewar.
8. Devotion and romance in Rajput painting.
9. Building Jaipur: city, palace and temple in 18th-century Rajasthan.
10. Museum visit

Classroom discussion will be complemented by study-visits to London museum collections. This course will appeal to students interested in the history and visual cultures of mediaeval and early modern South Asia and neighbouring regions, and to students in Study of Religions interested in early modern South Asian religions.

This course complements two existing options, one on the same period in southern India, Art and Empire in early modern south India (154900153), and one on the subsequent period from c.1750 to the present, Traditional Art in Modern South Asia (154900161).

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

At the end of a course, a student should be able to demonstrate

  • Knowledge of the chronological framework for the arts of northern India from c. 1500-1750 under the Mughals and their Rajput neighbours.
  •  Knowledge of the political, social and religious contexts for the production and use of art from northern India from c. 1500-1750.
  •  Understanding of key themes in the study of court art in South Asia.
  •  The ability to critically analyse paintings, architecture and urban landscapes from northern India using appropriate vocabulary.
  •  The ability to constructively criticise the approaches and methods of art historians.


1 hour Lecture per week. 1 hour Seminar/Tutorial per week.

Method of assessment

The written exam will count for 60%. 2 pieces of coursework will count for 40% (20% each) towards the final mark.