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 printed catalogues
Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library.
Falk, Toby and Archer, Mildred.
Persian Paintings in the India Office Library.