Art

Solomon Enthroned with Angels, Beasts, and Demons (painting, verso; Shi'a seals, recto), illustrated folio from a manuscript

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Solomon Enthroned with Angels, Beasts, and Demons (painting, verso; Shi'a seals, recto), illustrated folio from a manuscript, 1575–90
Manuscript Folio
Persian
,
16th century
Safavid period
Creation Place: Shiraz, Iran
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
42.5 x 26.5 cm (16 3/4 x 10 7/16 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
, 2002.50.37
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
,
Description
This folio is half of what was a double-page frontispiece depicting King Solomon on the right and Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, on the left. The Calderwood painting represents Solomon and his court, including his vizier Asaf, surrounded by animals, birds, angels, and divs. This scene is not linked to the text of the Shahnama per se, but rather reflects concepts of the ideal ruler. Similar depictions of Solomon appear as frontispieces in many Safavid illustrated manuscripts, merging the image of the just king with that of a prophet who is close to God.
The rich detail, bright colors, and lively composition of this frontispiece would have made it visually suitable for introducing the kingly adventures narrated and depicted in the following pages of the manuscript. The painting is surrounded by a wide band of illumination, in blue and gold with delicate floral tracery.
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1990 or 1992], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1990 or 1992 - 2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Bibliography
Mary McWilliams, "With Quite Different Eyes: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art", Apollo, ed. David Ekserdjian (November 2002), vol. CLVI no. 490, pp. 12-16, p.15, fig.11

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., ed. Mary McWilliams Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 14, ill.; pp. 88-89, ill.; p. 236, cat. 94, ill.

Exhibition History
Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005
In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013