Renown British painter and printmaker Howard Hodgkin has been a passionate collector of Indian paintings since his schooldays, and his collection has long been considered one of the finest of its kind in the world. At times he has devoted as much effort to developing his collection as to his own work as a painter. The celebrated artist's full collection of great Mughal art is being presented for the first time at the Ashmolean Museum in an exhibition running from early February to mid-April 2011. The catalogue includes over 110 Indian paintings and drawings. "You need things to look at, things to affect your feelings, and your intelligence, and your heart" the artist has said. Many paintings shown are recent purchases never before exhibited revealing how Hodgkin has constantly refined the collection over the years. The collection comprises most of the main types of Indian court painting that flourished during the Mughal period (c.1550-1850), including the refined naturalistic works of the imperial Mughal court, the poetic and subtly coloured paintings of the Deccani Sultanates, the boldly drawn and vibrantly coloured styles of the Rajput kingdoms of Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills.
Hodgkin's own art is collected worldwide in museums as diverse as the Tate and the Phillips Collection and Yale Center for British Art in America. In 2003, he was named by England's Queen Elizabeth II as a Companion of Honor. Hodgkin once said his collecting had affected him as an artist but "Not in the way people think", that collecting had made him "Very aware of quality, and increasingly demanding of my own work."