Youth Dressed As A Dervish, Folio From An Album
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.19
People
Signed by Aqa Riza (Riza ‘Abbasi), Persian ( c. 1560-70 - 1635)
Title
Youth Dressed as a Dervish, folio from an album
Classification
Albums
Work Type
album folio
Date
c.1630
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
32.3 x 20.4 cm (12 11/16 x 8 1/16 in.)
Provenance
The Hagop Kevorkian Fund, 1976, sold; through [Sotheby, London, 12 April 1976] sold; to [Mansour Gallery, London, before 1995], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1995-2002) gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.19
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
A youthful dervish, his clothing rendered in uniformly dark hues of cool green, purple, and brown that contrast with the warm pink of his face and hands, is posed against a ground of ivory-colored paper, unpainted save for a common repertoire of golden landscape elements. He wears a plumed wool cap, carries a staff over his shoulder, and offers a sprig of yellow, red, and gray leaves to a companion beyond the picture frame. An inscription that reads, raqm/raqam-i kamina Riza-yi ?Abbasi (work of the humble Riza ?Abbasi)—the customary wording of the artist’s signed works—appears at the lower left. Although raqm or raqam ordinarily means “writing” or “figuring,” here it makes more sense translated as “work” or “design.” Riza’s frequent use of this term in his signatures suggests a conceptual blurring of the boundaries between the arts of writing and of depicting and, in addition, may represent a claim of entitlement to the high status accorded to calligraphers.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, written 2013
122

Aqa Riza (Riza ʿAbbasi)
Young Dervish
Folio from an album
Iran, Safavid period, c. 1630
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Folio: 32.3 × 20.4 cm (12 11/16 × 8 1/16 in.)
2002.50.19

Published: Sotheby’s 1976, lot 30; Soudavar 1992, 263, fig. 43; McWilliams 2002a, 13, fig. 6A; Harvard University Art Museums 2003, 20; McWilliams 2004, 7, fig. 9; Tan 2010, 13–14.

A youthful dervish, his clothing rendered in uniformly dark hues of cool green, purple, and brown that contrast with the warm pink of his face and hands, is posed against a ground of ivory-colored paper, unpainted save for a common repertoire of golden landscape elements. He wears a plumed wool cap, carries a staff over his shoulder, and offers a sprig of yellow, red, and gray leaves to a companion beyond the picture frame.[1] An inscription that reads, raqm/
raqam-i kamīna Riżā-yi ʿAbbāsī (work of the humble Riza ʿAbbasi)—the customary wording of the artist’s signed works—appears at the lower left. Although raqm or raqam ordinarily means “writing” or “figuring,” here it makes more sense translated as “work” or “design.” Riza’s frequent use of this term in his signatures suggests a conceptual blurring of the boundaries between the arts of writing and of depicting and, in addition, may represent a claim of entitlement to the high status accorded to calligraphers.

David J. Roxburgh

[1] For comparative materials, see Soudavar 1992, 263, figs. 42, 44; 292, cat. 118.

Label Text: Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, written 2004
Aqa Riza (Riza ᶜAbbasi)
Youth Dressed as a Dervish
Folio from an album
Iran, Isfahan, c. 1630
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
2002.50.19 [first proof]

Label Text: Re-View: S231 (Islamic rotation: 4) Strolling Through Isfahan: Seventeenth-Century Paintings From Safavid Iran, written 2010
Youth Dressed as a Dervish
Iran, Isfahan, c. 1630
Ink, color, and gold on paper
Signed Riza `Abbasi
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood
Collection of Islamic Art, 2002.50.19

Judging by the number of extant images of a standing youth in elegant garb, the subject must have been culturally meaningful to the cosmopolitan people of Isfahan. In these two paintings, the figures are rendered in broad silhouettes and flat areas of bright color against stylized curtains of foliage. While the orchestration of sinuous lines and the delicacy of elegant detail are hallmarks of these single-figure studies, the contrast between the two paintings underscores the individuality of styles. Bahram lingered on beautiful details: youthful face and slender body, multicolored sash, sable-lined hat with plumes and jewels, gem-studded wine bottle and cup. Riza `Abbasi used a tapering line to evoke volume, movement, and even emotion while remaining unconcerned with verisimilitude. The elegant gesture and gold-embroidered robe belie the ascetic practices associated with the dervish hat and staff. This youth reflects the Safavid incorporation of popular piety into a courtly milieu.

Publication History

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 20

Mary McWilliams, Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2004)

Yvonne Tan, "Strolling Through Isfahan: Seventeenth Century Paintings from Safavid Iran", The Asian Art Newspaper, ed. Sarah Callaghan, Sarah Callaghan (London, 2010), Vol. 13, Issue 6, p.13-14, article p.13-14, image p. 14

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 134-135, p. 139; p. 141, ill.; ill.; p. 256, cat. 122, 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.13, fig. 6

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

Re-View: S231 (Islamic rotation: 4) Strolling Through Isfahan: Seventeenth-Century Paintings From Safavid Iran, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 01/08/2010 - 06/13/2010

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

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