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Painted from Nature

Ustad Manur, Imperial Animal Painter of the Mughal Court

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

By Asok Kumar Das, Ph.D. Former Director, City Palace Museum, Jaipur, India
The Mughal Emperors of the Indian subcontinent can be considered amongst the most important royal patrons of the arts of the early Modern period. A particularly beloved interest was the depiction of birds, animals, and flowers. Spurred by developments in European painting, natural history became a major subject of painting throughout the Islamic world, but is epitomized by the Mughal emperors’ zeal for these subjects, which encouraged a small group ofpainters at court to specialize in such depictions.
Under the active tutelage of Emperor Jahangir (r. 1606-1627) himself, Ustad Mansur became the finest natural history painter of his time, earning the title, Wonder of the Age. Many of Mansur’s signed and ascribed works survive in museums and in private collections across the United States and Britain. In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Das will focus on Ustad Mansur’s masterpiece paintings of animals, and will present his recent discoveries in The Metropolitan Museum collections.

Asok Kumar Das, Ph.D. completed his doctorate at the University of London. He served as the Director of the City Palace Museum, Jaipur, and as Satyajit Ray Chair, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan (India). Earlier this year he joined the Indian Museum, Kolkata, as Tagore National Fellow, authoring a forthcoming catalogue of the Indian Museum’s collection of paintings. Currently, Dr. Das is also Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in theIslamicArt Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.