Mathurā art, style of Buddhist visual art that flourished in the trading and pilgrimage centre of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India, from the 2nd century BC to the 12th century AD; its most distinctive contributions were made during the Kushān and Gupta periods (1st–6th century AD). Images in the mottled red sandstone from the nearby Sīkri quarries are found widely distributed over north central India, attesting to Mathurā’s importance as an exporter of sculpture.
- Developed around Mathura, UP, it was not limited to only the images of Buddha but also the Hindu gods. It was purely indigenous in nature, reaching its zenith under the Kushanas. It drew inspiration from ancient Indian art of Bharhut and Sanchi.
- Carved in sandstone, the image of the Buddha was characterized by curly hair, roundness of flesh, transparent drapery with folds that are visible and a heavily decorated halo.
- The images of Buddha though were a conspicuous feature of the Mathura school which was known all over for its absorptive character of Indian themes and its vivacity. The ardor of Brahmanism, Jainism and Buddhism is well distinguished in the paintings of Mathura School of Art.
- The smile on the face of Buddha is probably the earliest appearance of the only means by which the Indian sculptor managed to show the inner contentment and peacefulness of the Buddha’s nature.