Volume 39 Number 1, December 1987
A Mirror of Princes: The Mughals and the Medici
|Specifications:||160 pages, 175 illustrations|
|Dimensions:||324 x 241 mm|
The Medici of Italy and the Mughals of India were contemporaries and each in their own way rose to parallel peaks of civilization. This volume vividly presents points of confluence and divergence of countries and cultures which at first sight seem widely different, providing a fresh perception of the nature of patronage as a mirror of power.
Dalu Jones is editor of AARP and author of numerous articles and books on aspects of Islamic art and architecture.
Patronage under the Medici and the Mughals: Cultural Parallels and Artistic Exchanges
Pietre Dure and Other Artistic Contacts between the Court of the Mughals and that of the Medici
The City as an Image of the King: Some Notes on the Town-Planning of Mughal Capitals in the 16th and 17th Centuries
Hanging Gardens in the Princely Capitals of Rajasthan and in Renaissance Italy: Sacred Space, Earthly Paradise, Secular Ritual
Metaphysical and Ephemeral Architecture
Giusto Puri Purini
The "Savonarola" Chair in Mughal Miniatures
Rosa Maria Cimino
Florentine Merchants in India in the 16th Century
Customs and Costumes: Travellers’ Tales of the Medici and the Mughals
Alberta Fabris Grube
The Origins and Early Development of Florentine Pietra Dura at the Court of the Medici
Anna Maria Giusti
Repercussions of the Counter-Reformation on the Works of the Mughal and the Florentine Painters: “Realism” in the Late 16th and Early 17th Centuries
Chronology of the Medici family of Italy and the Mughal dynasty of India.
The Medici of Italy and the Mughals of India were contemporaries. They were patrons of the arts par excellence. An exhibition which focused on parallels of outlook and ambition and exchanges between the two courts was held in Italy and India. It laid emphasis on the visual arts fostered under their patronage. The exhibition was divided into three main sections: the two courts; conceptual parallels relating to the concept of ideal city, cosmography, use of perspective; and actual interchange between the two courts. Through all this, the exhibition hoped to communicate how the Medici and the Mughals, each in their own way, rose to parallel peaks of civilization, and eventually while Italian Tuscany's artistic patrimony grew torpid and provincial, the Mughal empire expanded and then gradually faded away. This Marg volume supplements the exhibition through essays written by architects and art historians who have been stimulated by the epoch.
New research on the theme of patronage, the continuity of cultural traditions and ideas, and their transmission between countries and civilizations at first sight widely different, with reference to the contemporary dynasties of the Medici in Florence and of the Mughals in India. Despite their different histories, the two courts became centres for cultural excellence and enlightened patronage in Asia and in Europe. They left behind works of art of superlative refinement, literature, music, but above all they stand out for having created for centuries a cosmopolitan and syncretistic milieu which nurtured and encouraged artistic activity. It was in Renaissance Italy, under the Medici, that the concept of the patron of the arts was born in its modern meaning, as an expression of individual taste and private money. The relationship between the two courts was never direct. It was limited to specific undertakings: trade, royal gifts, missionary and diplomatic activities, and is documented by travellers' accounts, by trading records, and by the chronicles of the Mughal court.
It is striking to note that 17th-century Mughal India drew inspiration from the unlikely source of Italy, and that Medici art was a contributory factor among the various heterogeneous artistic traditions which in their synthesis became the Mughal imperial style. Important transmitters of European art and artistic ideas were the Jesuit missionaries who reached the Mughal court from 1580 onwards. Though Mughal texts are silent about the connections between the Mughals and the Medici, the evidence provided by the arts speaks clearly. The main impulse to relate Mughal art to the arts of the Medici has come from the use of pietre dure inlays in the buildings of Shah Jahan. The Mughal patronage of hard-stone carving, of natural history drawings, and their transposition in pietre dure, has much in common with the art patronized by the Medici. It is likely that similar tastes and interests of the Mughal patrons and artists led to similar artistic expressions, once the initial lesson of the European form and technique had been absorbed.
The author suggests that the concept of the city and the palace in the times of the Medici resembled a theatre in which was played out a drama which celebrated a half-divine origin for the prince, acquired in fact more prosaically with the profits of commerce. The exaltation of the new princely city reached its peak in magnificent processions occasioned by state visits or events which celebrated the dynasty with its birthdays, the promises of betrothals, and the apotheosis of its deaths. This article examines how two parallel forms of Mughal ritual, the royal audience and the procession, were modified by their setting, either the garden, the encampment, the palace, or the city, and how the garden and the encampment, in the course of the 16th and 17th centuries, changed meaning, form, and function. A discussion on the planning and features of the Mughal cities of Fatehpur-Sikri and Shahjahanabad follows.
Italian literature reflects a fascination for a structure known as the hanging garden -- with trees which do not take root in the ground but stand instead in artificially raised gardens, on multistoriesed substructures or on the roofs and upper terraces of functional buildings. The particular aesthetic charm of such a structure lies in the ambiguity of its nature as a cross between flora and architecture, in which the antitheses of art and nature appear to merge. Historical and biblical references to hanging gardens, as well as their importance in Italian architecture and literature are discussed. In the East, hanging gardens remained an attribute of royal power well into modern times. The multi-tiered mountain with paradises and trees of happiness seems to be the conceptual model of many of the Indian hanging gardens. Most of them were built as architectural requisites of royal centres, but not necessarily as a backdrop to secular power. Some were merely laid out as an evocation of the earthly paradise and definitely would serve worldly pleasures. Maunbari in Ajmer and the hanging garden at Bari Mahal, Udaipur, both in the state of Rajasthan, are discussed here.
In this statement, one of the two architects of the ceremonial arch in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, discusses his concept of the arch built in the Mughal style. The Mughal arch erected at Boboli gardens avoided the concept of exoticism and orientalism. There was no copying or banal translation of forms, no reproduction of individual details, but references to an architectural form that was universal.
The Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, and Shah Jahan were keenly interested in European prints and paintings which they collected in large numbers: this interest is corroborated by Indian historians, as well as by the accounts of travellers and missionaries who were in contact with the imperial court. There exist, in addition, numerous prints which belonged to the imperial collections, as well as various imitations and copies of European paintings executed by the imperial atelier. The custom of furnishing the imperial residences with Western art objects is not only mentioned by the missionaries, but illustrated by Indian painters of the period as well. The "Savonarola" chair, a Tuscan original, appears in several Indian miniatures, clearly inspired by Western originals. Several paintings with this chair are discussed in the article.
A number of Florentines participated in one way or another in the Portuguese overseas expansion. Florentine business groups either invested directly in voyages to the East Indies or decided to send their own agents to India; or other individual traders set out alone on Portuguese vessels to try their luck. A number of Florentine merchant-adventurers were known to have visited India in the 16th century. In the first half of the century their destination was the Malabar Coast. First-hand contacts between the European merchants and the Mughal empire did not take place until the second half of the 16th century, when many Florentine and other European merchants reached the courts of the Mughal emperors. This article discusses the activities of various Florentine merchants in the 16th century.who ventured out to India.
This article discusses the cultural, political, and ideological background in 16th-century Florence, and the writings and observations of the Florentine merchants that sailed across to India. These merchants recorded the various customs, traditions, and lifestyles of Indians, including their homes, religion and temples, work, food habits, costumes, flora and fauna.
It is uncertain whether the technique of pietra dura, or stone inlay work, in the 16th century originated in Rome or Florence. In Florence, at the court of Francesco I de' Medici, work in pietra dura acquired a refined and perfected complexity which was to render Florentine gem-cutting and inlay world-famous for centuries. The artistic energy of Florentine late Mannerism found its ideal field of expression in pietra dura inlay, where the inventiveness of the artist was stimulated by the capricious palette of colours offered by nature and his technical capacity was sternly tried by the problems of working in siliceous stone. The variety of marble and pietra dura that the Medici brought to Florence in the 16th century was infinite. The article further discusses the Medici as patrons of pietra dura work, and the method involved in this kind of inlay work as well as the designs, objects, and monuments that were created by pietra dura.
This article discusses how the Counter-Reformation movement or the Catholic Reformation was indirectly responsible for introducing "realism" to Mughal painting. The author also believes that the same religious movement was partly responsible for the appearance of realism in much Florentine painting of the same period. Realism in the Mughal miniature was not accidental but was consciously developed—a development which was motivated by the study of European paintings and engravings. There is literary evidence proving the existence of Western art works at the Mughal court at the time of the birth and development of the Mughal school. Several of these European art works were carried by the Jesuits, the "spiritual army" of the Counter-Reformation. The Jesuits had established their order at Goa, and their first mission arrived at the Mughal court in 1580.