A surprise for Shah Jahan
So this is where I’ve been the past 10 months. I’ve been working on a non-fiction children’s book titled The Taj Mahal. This is my fifth book in this series, (the man-made Wonders of the World), and it has been the most difficult. As is my custom, I made it much harder than it needed to be. After looking at tons of reference on the Taj, I was captivated by the gorgeous design sense and detailed art from the period in which the Taj was built. The Mughal Empire existed in India from 1504-1857, but flourished from the time of Akbar the Great in 1556 until the death of Aurangzeb in 1707. The empire was built by blood-thirsty, power hungry warlords, and yet they had an incongruous love for art, architecture and elaborate floral gardens. Court artists and artisans were admired and revered. Perhaps the only monarchy that could rival The Mughal Empire for artistic growth and support was the Medici Empire in Italy, around the same time.
So, naturally, I decided that I wanted my art to have the same aesthetic and feel as Mughal art. Easier said than done. If you’ve ever seen Persian miniatures, you know the level of detail I wanted. I had to compromise somewhat just to finish the book on deadline, and because the client wanted the architecture and structure of the Taj itself to be “accurate.” So I went for a hybrid of Western and Eastern perspective and Mughal stylistic elements, and I tried to suppress my own representational tendencies.
I also wanted to throw in some demons but the client nixed that idea.