In Praise Of The Simple Life (Painting, Verso; Text, Recto), Folio 316 From A Divan Of Anvari
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1960.117.316
People
Unknown Artist
Title
In Praise of the Simple Life (painting, verso; text, recto), folio 316 from a Divan of Anvari
Other Titles
Alternate Title: "A King Visiting a Hermit"; Folio 318b from a Divan of Anwari, copied for Emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605)
Series/Book Title: Divan of Anvari
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1588
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, Pakistan, Lahore
Period
Mughal period
Culture
Indian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
folio: 13.9 x 7.6 cm (5 1/2 x 3 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Goelet, formerly in the collection of Louis J. Cartier
Accession Year
1960
Object Number
1960.117.316
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: Anvari's Divan: A Pocket Book for Akbar, written 1984
14. In Praise of the Simple Life
folios 317a & 316b 1960.117.14

Label Text: The Enlightened Eye: Gifts from John Goelet, written 2000
Illustrations from a Divan (Collected Works) of Anvari
India, Lahore, Mughal period, dated AH 996/ AD 1588
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Gift of John Goelet, formerly in the collection of Louis J. Cartier, 1960.117.1-15
Manuscript colophon: "This elegant copy was completed at the hand of the sinful slave who hopes for God's mercy ... [name obliterated] ... in the city of Lahore at the beginning of Dhu'l-Qa'da 996 [September 22, 1588]"

In 1585, Akbar (r. 1556-1605), the third Mughal ruler of Hindustan, transferred his capital to Lahore to strengthen control of the empire's northwestern territories. During its thirteen-year residence at Lahore, the emperor's court witnessed the production of some of the most exquisite and luxurious examples of all Mughal art. Many of the works copied and illustrated for Akbar at Lahore were poetic texts, and notable among these productions was this Divan (Collected Works) of Auhaduddin 'Ali Anvari (d. c. 1190).
This diminutive copy of Anvari's Divan is one of the great treasures of Mughal art given to Harvard University by John Goelet. The manuscript, which could have easily been held in the palm of the emperor's hand, contains fifteen jewel-like paintings (seven are on display in this gallery) . The text is beautifully penned in nasta'liq script on gold­ flecked and marbled paper. Although the paintings bear no signatures, they can be attributed to the foremost masters of the Mughal atelier: Basawan, his son Manohar, Miskin, and 'Abd al-Samad.
This Divan and other artistic works made for Akbar at Lahore represent a departure from the historical and epic texts that had characterized the first half of the emperor's reign. These earlier compositions, teeming with activity and figures, were the result of collaborative efforts in which two or more artists worked together to complete individual paintings. Akbar's tastes appear to have changed over time,
for by the later years of the sixteenth century, each painter was encouraged to develop an individual style and to complete a work of art from design to finish. In this later stage, compositions were more economical, and emphasis was placed on the interaction between figures in the painting. The aesthetic trends begun in Akbar's atelier at Lahore were to mature fully during the rule of his son Jahangir (r. 1605-1627). [draft]

Label Text: The Enlightened Eye: Gifts from John Goelet, written 2000
In Praise of the Simple Life
Folios 316b and 317a from a Divan (Collected Works) of Anvari
India, Lahore, Mughal period, manuscript dated AH 996 IAD 1588
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Gift of John Goelet, formerly in the collection of Louis J. Cartier, 1960.117.14

One of the greatest of all Persian panegyrists, Anvari (d. c. 1190) was a favorite at the court of the Saljuq sultan Sanjar. As a young man, Anvari was an accomplished student of philosophy, mathematics, astrology, and astronomy. He turned away from his scholarly ambitions, however, hoping to find greater remuneration as a poet. A short poem entitled /1 Advice" faces this painting of a princely figure with a gem-studded beard" in the company of scholars:

Master, if possible, don't seek a scholar's career,
For that will keep you in search of your daily bread.
Let buffoonery be your profession and learn how to sing, That you might take your reward from the high and the low. Are not a nook and a book for a sensitive man
Better than wealth and a kingdom and prosperous life?
If those dull people do not know this property’s worth,
I'm not ashamed of you, reason: you know it quite well!
Look, Pharaoh is in hell, with his gem-studded beard;
It was Moses, the shepherd, who was kindly addressed by the Lord. [draft]

Exhibition History

Anvari's Divan: A Pocket Book for Akbar, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/07/1984 - 03/28/1984

The Enlightened Eye: Gifts from John Goelet, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/12/2000 - 05/07/2000

Related Works
Verification Level

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