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Basawan [Basāwan; Basāvana]locked

(fl c. 1556–1600).
  • Milo Cleveland Beach

Extract

Indian miniature painter. One of the great talents to flourish under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605), he was a prolific painter who contributed to virtually all the great illustrated manuscripts executed in the imperial workshops over a span of some 40 years. While most Mughal artists were concerned with the importance of line, colour and surface pattern, Basawan, with a greater understanding of the techniques of imported European works, developed a palette closer to that of European oil painting and dissolved outlines to create greater three-dimensionality. In his work, surface patterns are subservient to a dramatic spatial penetration of the picture plane. These traits were quite new within both Indian and Islamic traditions, and Basawan led the vanguard in adopting them. His work is remarkable also for the complexity of his compositions, his skill at giving roundness and density to his figures and his sensitive portrait-like faces. A contemporary assessment of Basawan is found in the ...

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