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India Office Indian Miniatures Collection

Collection Details

India Office Indian Miniatures Collection held at Asian and African Studies [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The majority of the Indian miniatures come from the collection of Richard Johnson (in India 1770-90). His collection was purchased by the Company for its Library in 1807. It includes some Mughal masterpieces of the Akbar and Jahangir period, and some rare early Deccani paintings. The bulk of the collection is of 18th century Mughal and Provincial Mughal paintings. 1069 paintings, accessed by their Johnson Album number.

Miniatures acquired since the Johnson Collection have been given accession numbers beginning Additional Oriental (Add.Or.). This collection is mostly Mughal and provincial Mughal. Outstanding here is the Dara Shikoh Album of Mughal paintings 1633-42, acquired in 1908. About 700 paintings, accessed by their Add. Or. number.

The Johnson Collection also contains a small number of Persian miniatures collected by Johnson in India, while there have been some subsequent Persian additions. The bulk of the Library's collections of Indian and Persian miniatures are contained in the oriental manuscripts in Persian and in Indian languages.

History and development

The largest number of miniatures was acquired with the collections of Richard Johnson in 1807, while the next outstanding acquisition was the Dara Shikoh Album acquired in 1908. The remainder of the collection was acquired mostly individually or in small groups in the 20th century.


The stength of the collection consists of 18th century Mughal paintings, including many portraits, and provincial Mughal paintings especially from Lucknow, Hyderabad and Murshidabad. It is particularly strong in sets of Ragamala paintings.

General arrangement and access regulations

The collections are mostly of individually mounted miniatures, boxed in schools, with some albums, all kept in the Print Room where they are also accessed by readers. The Johnson collection is accessed through J. numbers, the remainder through their Add.Or. number. All the collections are accessible to readers by appointment.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.


India, Iran, Pakistan.


Arts, Literature, Music, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Women.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

1900 Indian miniatures

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

A few drawings per annum.

Content date range

1450 to 1850 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


Printed catalogues available up to 1970s. Subsequent acquisitions are catalogued in a dedicated computerised database available in the OIOC Reading Room. This is now available on-line at

Collection printed catalogues

Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library.
Falk, Toby and Archer, Mildred.
London, 1981.

Persian Paintings in the India Office Library.
Robinson, B.W.
London, 1976.

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