It's unfortunate that most Miniature Artists languish in anonymity because the style is prioritized to the content. However there were some painters like Govardhan and Ustad Mansur Khan, who gained much popularity during their lifetime. And of course there were legendary figures like Mir Sayyid Ali Tabrizi and Khwaja Abdu's-Samad Shirazi who brought Miniature Paintings to India.
This intricate school of art was characterized by delicate brushwork and existed in the forms of ‘illuminations' (Drawings included in a book, especially in medieval manuscripts or normal paintings.
Miniature Painters used varied substances for coloring their drawings, namely- minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. The themes of these paintings included the Ragas or musical codes of Indian Classical music.
Mughal miniature Painting owes its origin to the artistic genius of Humayun. Humayun had been driven out of India by his rival Sher Shah and was forced to seek refuge for one year in the court of Shah Tahmasp (1524-76 CE) of Persia. Shah Tahmasp was a generous patron of painting and maintained in his court a large entourage of painters, and among them was the master painter Mirak. During his time as a refugee, Humayun spent a great deal of time at the studios of Tabriz inspecting their works. Humayun returned from Persia with a high sense of appreciation for pictorial art, convinced of its great cultural value.
Among the painters whom he met at Tabriz, two painters caught his attention, Mir Sayyid Ali Tabrizi and Khwaja Abdu's-Samad Shirazi. When leaving Tabriz, Humayun promised employment as soon as he was in a position to maintain a court of his own. As soon as he wrested control of Kabul, he invited these two painters to join his court.
These talented Painters did not disappoint him and they trained many aspirant painters in this intricate art form.
This Miniature Artist of the 17 th Century was well known for his battle paintings, his painting of Shah Jahan riding with his eldest son Dara Shikoh was quite popular.
Khwaja 'Abdu's-Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali can be called akbars favorite painters. Among artists of Indian origin Dashwanth and Basawan were rated highly as portrait painters. The master portrait painters of Jahangir's court were Farrukh Beg, Muhammad Nadir, Aqa Raza and Bishandas. Referring to the excellence of Bishandas as a painter, Jahangir records, "At the present time he has no equal or rival…" Shah Jahan's famous court painters were Muhammad Faqiru'llah Khan, Mir Hasan, Anup Chitra and Chintamani.