Solomon Enthroned With Angels, Beasts, And Demons (Painting, Verso; Shi'a Seals, Recto), Illustrated Folio From A Manuscript
verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.37
People
Unknown Artist
Title
Solomon Enthroned with Angels, Beasts, and Demons (painting, verso; Shi'a seals, recto), illustrated folio from a manuscript
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1575–90
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
42.5 x 26.5 cm (16 3/4 x 10 7/16 in.)
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.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.37
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
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.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
94

Frontispiece: Solomon Enthroned
Recto: seals with pious inscriptions
Verso: illustration
Folio: 42.5 × 26.5 cm (16 3/4 × 10 7/16 in.)
2002.50.37

Published: McWilliams 2002a, 15, fig. 11.

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.[1] 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 Shāhnāma 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.

Mika M. Natif

[1] For the facing folio, depicting Bilqis enthroned in a palace, see, in this volume, the essay by Marianna Shreve Simpson, “The Illustrated Shāhnāma in Sixteenth-Century Shiraz,” 77–113, specifically 89, fig. 7b.

Publication History

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

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

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

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted