Opulence and fantasy characterize the art of India's Deccan courts during the rule of its sultans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The diamond-rich region attracted artists, poets, writers, and traders from all over the world—including Iran, Turkey, Africa, and Europe—who were drawn to the Shi’a culture and material splendor of the courts. Under their mixed influence, captivating art styles of otherworldly charm evolved.
At its zenith, the Deccan became home to Indian and Persian artists, the abode of African elites, and the place where European discoverers embraced new tastes in textiles and gems. By the end of the seventeenth century, the Deccan courts gave way to Mughal domination from the north, but their preceding efflorescence offers a glimpse of the imaginative heights reached in the arts of painting.
This exhibition brings together some two hundred of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections. Featuring many remarkable loans from India, the exhibition—which is the most comprehensive museum presentation on this subject to date—explores the unmistakable character of classical Deccani art in various media: poetic lyricism in painting, lively creations in metalwork, and a distinguished tradition of textile production.
"Beautiful, sometimes heart-rending show"—New York Times
The exhibition is made possible by the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund, the Placido Arango Fund, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Doris Duke Fund for Publications, and Shubha and Prahlad Bubbar.
A Parrot Perched on a Mango Tree; a Ram Tethered Below, ca. 1630–70. Golconda. Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad