This was an essay that I had to read several times just to grasp an understanding of what it is all about. The history behind it is quite complex and the scholars are still trying to figure out where the influences are from when it comes to the artwork.
- How does the author begin her essay? Yael Rice begins her essay by saying that the Mogul’s official records does not actually discuss the arrival or the missions of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus). Thus, she contrasts this by pointing out several evidence such as paintings that their influence was more than it seemed. The Mogul art that we had access to today have various European/Christian influences in terms of aesthetics. However, the content is adapted for the Mogul empire and Muslim Emperor Akbar’s taste.
- In contrast to calligraphy and painting, what place does an European engraving occupy in the album?
It is presumed by historians that the European engravings are more for an aesthetic purpose rather than a symbolic one. But it is interesting to see the mixture of Arabic calligraphy, with paintings, and what’s more? The European engravings.
Yael Rice writes…
“But what of the relationship between engravings and calligraphies? In a 1926 study of the Jahangir album pages in Berlin, Ernst Kühnel and Hermann Goetz expressed puzzlement over thepairing of European engravings with specimens of calligraphy. The only explanation they could offer was that Mogul artists and connoisseurs had mistaken the prints for quill drawings.13 It is diffi cult to know whether these works were indeed thought to have been produced with a type of qalam, rather than with a burin and the aid of a press. In any case, it is intriguing to imagine that Mogul artists and patrons found a kinship between the effects of the burin and those of the reed pen. Indeed, engravings are decidedly calligraphic—in their concentration on linear means to build up compositions they perhaps share more in common with the art of the calligrapher than with that of the painter. In order to appreciate this point fully, one must perceive the calligraphic specimen as an ‘image’, its semantic content secondary, and, likewise, the engraving as more ‘graphic’ than iconographic.”
- Then, what is the relationship between paintings and engravings? Yael states that the Moguls understood and appreciated art by putting all these 3 elements together due to their similarity in technique and form. Less attention is place in the content. A great contrast to last semester’s Medieval and Early Christian in which the artists’ main intentions are to spread a message rather than the aesthetic quality of the pieces.
Yael continues that by looking at the collection, we can see that the Mogul albums showcased an early skill of concept art. A collection of pieces grouped together in either motif/theme/aesthetic/content. It is interesting how these ancient artists made the 3 forms come together successfully.
Concept art is still prevalent in the art world/music industry to this day. Works in a series or a concept album portrays the parallel with the Mogul albums. Mixed media using writing and images can push art forward in ways that sometimes using only one platform cannot.