Miniature artworks by Lucknow-based artisans lay claim for an Awadh School of Painting!

A fusion of artistic cultures thrived in Awadh around the reign of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula.

The artists of Instagram have been gripped by the art of miniature paintings and portraits, as seen especially during the COVID-19 lockdown. However, this style of painting isn't newfound, for the artists belonging to the Mughal court and Awadh, practised this art form long before it became a social media trend. The miniature painting genre rose to greater heights after Nadir Shah plundered Delhi and the artisans of the Mughal court relocated to Awadh, where they gradually gained the patronage of the Nawabs. While people still debate whether such creative attempts can be regarded separately as 'Awadh School of Painting', the fusion of cultures that thrived thusly, is worth the exploration!

Making a case for the Awadh School of Painting

Patricia Tena, 2019

The prominent styles of miniatures practised in Awadh can be traced back to the reign of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula, however, it is usually referred to as the Later Provincial Mughal School of Lucknow. A tour of the State Museum that was established in 1863 in Lucknow, will expose you to a plethora of miniature paintings and these artistic efforts will make you believe that there does exist an Awadh School of Painting.

On one hand, some scholars often claim that there are no apparent differences observed in the style of Mughal Miniatures and Awadh Miniatures, hence, the two are clubbed under one head. On the other hand, certain researchers are of the view that Awadh Miniatures are distinguishable from other styles of Indian painting. This difference is highlighted through the palette of colours used, which depict life as it is, as opposed to the semblance of glory that accompanies the depictions of court scenes.

Prominent artists who painted Awadh Miniatures

Patricia Tena, 2019

Gajraj Singh, Asaf Ali Khan, Ghulam Mustafa, Mohammad Masud, Mohammad Wazir, Hasan Ali and Jahan Ali Khan, are the seven prominent artists who exhibited an independent style in their miniature paintings! The creations that are attributed to these seven, share a thematic depiction of the leisure time of the nawabs, depicting different rasas, dance, drama and much more.

Knock Knock

Despite the existing confusion in regards to their separate identity, the miniature paintings from Awadh, depict a kind of candour that is rare to observe. The credit for this openness is often given to Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula, who wasn't just a ruler or the subject of these paintings but an artist who didn't expect creativity to be maligned by pretences.

If you are an art lover, we hope that this article helps you to decide for yourself whether Awadh School of Painting has a separate identity from the Delhi style of painting or not!

-With inputs from

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