Chugtai captured in his pictures the fragrant mood of Persian life and the dream-world air of the Mughal court

Abdur Rehman Chugtai was one of the foremost painters who along with the Bengal School of Artists strove for aesthetic revival in Indian art.

Following their efforts, “there was a nostalgic reorientation of imagination towards traditions, legend and history, all the poetry of the old ways of living which seemed to be endangered by the aggressive blood of Western culture”.

While his colleagues turned to Ajanta and other Indian art traditions, Chugtai took refuge in the romance of yesteryears - the Persian legends and the Mughal tales. He has ably captured in his pictures the fragrant mood of Persian life and the dream-world atmosphere of the Mughal court.

The Orientalist in him scrupulously avoided any attempt at exactness of representation and exaggerated emphasis on action, so typical of the Occidental art. The Salarjung Museum preserves as many as 14 exquisite water colours of this great artist.

The Eastern taste for refined decoration finds best expression in Chugtai’s works. The quaint architectural details, vaporous colours and the languorous figures take us to the Persian world of wine-serving sakis and love-inflamed beauties of the Mughal era.

Persian by descent and born in a family of the master builders of the Pearl Mosque and the Taj Mahal, Chugtai painted hundred of pictures, which were sold to many connoisseurs. He also visited Europe and won applause. He published art books, the finest of them being ‘Muraqqi-i-Chugtai’ and ‘Naqish-i-Chugtai’, which are adorned with charming paintings.

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