- Gallery Text
The wealth and attention directed to the arts of the book in sixteenth-century Iran can be seen in this elaborate book binding and the adjacent sets of double pages, which were removed from the text block. Here, elements of superb quality — paper, calligraphy, illumination, illustration, and binding — were harmoniously combined to create a unified work of art. This manuscript was owned by the Safavid prince and bibliophile Sam Mirza, brother of Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524–76).
In Islamic books, figural representation had usually been confined to the inside of a manuscript, where it could be enjoyed privately. Artists in the early Safavid period pushed figural imagery to the outside as well.On this binding Safavid courtiers — recognizable by the baton of their turbans — enjoy refreshments, attended by flying angels. The cover is executed in a medium known as Persian lacquer, an extension of the miniature-painting technique of opaque watercolor on a paper substrate. The painted cover was completed with a coating of
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
BInding attributed to Sultan Muhammad, Persian (16th century)
- Illustrated Manuscript of a Divan of Hafiz
- Work Type
- c. 1530
- Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
- Safavid period
- Physical Descriptions
- Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper; binding: lacquer on paper with leather
- 29.21 x 19.05 x 3.5 cm (11 1/2 x 7 3/16 x 1 3/8 in.)
- Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., Contoocook, NH, (by 1964), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1964.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart C. Welch, Jr.
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
- The enormous wealth and attention directed to the arts of the book in sixteenth-century Iran can be seen in this elaborate book binding and the elaborate illustrated pages, which were removed long ago from its text block. A heightened interest in illustrations, particularly of poetic texts, drove the development of a distinctive art form popularly known as Persian miniature painting. In Islamic books, figural representation had usually been confined to the inside of a manuscript, where it could be enjoyed privately. As this beautiful book cover demonstrates, artists in the early Safavid period pushed figural imagery to the outside as well.
Here Safavid courtiers—recognizable by the red baton of their turbans—enjoy refreshments, while winged angels carry covered trays. The cover is executed in a medium known as Persian lacquer, an extension of the miniature-painting technique of opaque watercolor and gold on a paper substrate. The painted cover was completed with a coating of clear lacquer.
This manuscript and the lacquer binding was created in the early sixteenth century for the Safavid prince and bibliophile Sam Mirza, brother of Shah Tahmasp (r. 1524–76), the dynasty’s second ruler.
- Publication History
Laurence Binyon and J. V. S. Wilkinson, Persian Miniature Painting: Including a Critical and Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March, 1931, exh. cat., Oxford University Press (NY) and Oxford University Press (UK) (London, England, 1933), page 128
Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, A Survey of Persian Art From Prehistoric Times to the Present, Soroush Press (Tehran, Iran, 1977), page 972, 977
Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), page 83/figure 88
Studies In Islamic and Later Indian Art From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), page 11 & 12/figure 3 & 4
Jon Thompson, ed., Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Iran, 1501 - 1576, exh. cat., Skira (New York, 2003), p 185, fig 7.1
Robert Hillenbrand and Firuza Abdullaeva, ed., Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia. Studies in Honor of Charles Melville., I. B. Tauris (London, 2013), p. 337; plate 26
Selseleh: Artistic Lineages in Persian Painting, Hadeeth ad-Dar (Kuwait, 2014), Vol. 28, pp. 12-17, fig. 1
- Exhibition History
The Heavenly Court: Persian Poetry and Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/09/1985 - 03/31/1985
Early Safavid Painting 1501 - 1576, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/21/1987 - 04/12/1987
Geometry of the Spirit: Islamic Illumination and Calligraphy, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/30/1988 - 06/26/1988
Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990
Eyes to the East: Indian, Persian, and Turkish Art Given by Harvard Graduates, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/1990 - 11/25/1990
Calligraphy and the Arts of the Book, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/25/1993 - 01/30/1994
32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/14/2015
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
- Related Works
This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at firstname.lastname@example.org