What Is Indian Art History?

Art|Art History

Indian art history is the study of ancient, medieval and modern art forms originating in India. It covers a wide range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, architecture, pottery and textile arts. Indian art has a long and varied history, stretching back over 5,000 years.

The earliest known examples of Indian art are the Indus Valley paintings which date from 3300-1500 BCE. These paintings are mostly red ochre or white paint on mud walls and show animals, geometric shapes and abstract designs. Other early examples of Indian art include the rock paintings at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh which date from around 10,000 BCE till historic times.

The earliest known works of sculpture from India are the stone carvings on the walls of Ellora Caves in Maharashtra which date back to 600-800 CE. These sculptures depict Hindu gods such as Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma as well as scenes from Hindu mythology. During this period, temple architecture became increasingly elaborate with temples such as Brihadishvara Temple at Thanjavur being built with intricate stone carvings depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.

In the Mughal period (1526-1857 CE), Indian art was heavily influenced by Persian art and culture. Paintings were created in a hybrid style which combined Indian and Persian elements to create a unique aesthetic. This style was further developed by late Mughal artists such as Abul Hasan who created highly detailed miniatures depicting scenes from court life or battles between Mughal armies and their enemies.

From the 18th century onwards, Indian art underwent a period of transformation as it was influenced by various European styles such as Romanticism, Realism and Impressionism. British artists such as William Hodges created landscapes inspired by their travels in India while local artists such as Raja Ravi Varma began to use oil paints to create vibrant images of Hindu gods and goddesses which were widely popular among Indians in the 19th century.

Modern Indian art is an eclectic mix of traditional styles blended with contemporary elements to create unique works that reflect India’s culture and society today. Contemporary Indian artists often draw on their own cultural heritage while also incorporating elements from other cultures around the world to create new forms of expression that reflect India’s diverse population in the 21st century.


Indian Art History is a vast subject covering ancient artifacts dating back thousands of years up until modern contemporary works that reflect India’s diverse population today. It encompasses many different mediums including painting, sculpture, architecture and textile arts which have been influenced by various cultures throughout its long history including Persian Mughals during medieval times as well as European styles during colonial times until today’s eclectic mix blending traditional styles with contemporary elements creating unique works reflecting India’s culture and society today.