The Brush of Insight
Artists and Agency at the Mughal Court
- PUBLISHED: May 2023
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / South Asia, Art History / Asian Art
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 272 Pages, 7 x 10 in, 86 color illus., 1 map, 3 tables
- ISBN: 9780295751092
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Over the course of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Mughal court painters evolved from illustrators of manuscripts and albums to active mediators of imperial visionary experience, cultivating their patrons’ earthly and spiritual authority. Featuring over 80 color illustrations, The Brush of Insight traces this shift, demonstrating how royal artists created a new visual economy that featured highly naturalistic royal portraits and depictions of the emperors’ dreams. These images, in turn, shaped the perception of the Mughal emperors’ preeminence in all domains—temporal and spiritual—from the reign of Akbar to that of his son and successor, Jahangir. In analyzing a wide range of visual materials including manuscripts, albums, and coins, art historian Yael Rice documents how manuscript painters and paintings challenged the status of writing as the primary medium for the transmission of knowledge and experience. With compelling material and original arguments, The Brush of Insight probes how pictures and illustrated books became central to imperial modes of seeing and being in early modern Mughal South Asia.
Authors & Contributors
Yael Rice is associate professor of the history of art and Asian languages and civilizations at Amherst College.
Exciting and highly innovative. A must-read for all scholars and students of Indian art history, history, and religious studies.- Catherine B. Asher, coauthor of India before Europe
A thoughtful and thrilling exploration of artistic agency in Mughal painting that gives imperial painters fresh due while recognizing their commitments to otherworldly visions.- Molly Emma Aitken, author of The Intelligence of Tradition in Rajput Court Painting
Rice sets a new standard for writing about Mughal manuscript painting and artists. Original yet synthetic, rigorous but accessible—this book is sure to please specialists and students alike.- Phillip B. Wagoner, coauthor of Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India's Deccan Plateau, 1300–1600
With vividness and elegance, Rice brings to life the inner world of the artists who sustained the visual and ritual culture of Mughal sacred kingship. A tremendous achievement.- A. Azfar Moin, author of The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam