Professor of Art History, University of Vermont
Dr. John Seyller, Professor of Art History, University of Vermont, received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1986. Since then he has discovered many inscriptions that substantially alter long-established chronologies and has provided an extraordinarily complete account of the mechanisms of the Mughal library and painting workshop. In one exhaustive article (Artibus Asiae, 1997), he opened up an entirely new field with a study of the information recorded in inspection notes written on the flyleaves of hundreds of manuscripts once in the imperial Mughal library. The notes reveal the manuscripts' source of acquisition, rate of perusal, monetary value, and qualitative ranking (e.g., first class, second grade), thus constituting the most extensive source of contemporary information about Mughal collecting and connoisseurship.
His Pearls of the Parrot of India: The Walters Art Museum Khamsa of Amir Khusraw of Delhi (2001) is a model monographic study of a deluxe literary manuscript. This was followed by The Adventures of Hamza: Painting and Storytelling in Mughal India, a ground-breaking catalogue of the Persian popular romance known as the Hamzanama (1557-1572) that accompanied a major international exhibition (2002-2003). Three books published in 2010, 2011, and 2013 present many previously unpublished Mughal works from a major private collection, an important museum in India, and ground-breaking essays on six of the greatest Mughal painters of the 16th and 17th centuries.
His current research projects include a corpus of Indo-Islamic seals, studies of several manuscripts illustrated at the Mughal courts in Agra and Allahabad in the early 17th century, and catalogues of paintings from the Punjab Hills, the Deccan, and Central India in the Mittal Museum in Hyderabad.