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Mughal painting in the eighteenth century

Emperor Muhammad Shah (r. 1719–48) was a great romantic. He composed poetry using the pen-name ‘Sada Rangila’ (‘Ever-Colourful’) and devoted much time to artistic and leisurely pursuits. The subject matter of imperial Mughal painting changed during his reign to include more depictions of his private life, idealised beauties and interpretations of popular, rather than classical, literature.

Muhammad Shah’s court attracted artists from across north India. After his death, Delhi declined in importance and many artists left the Mughal capital and migrated to wealthy provincial centres in search of patrons.