Lovers' Picnic, Painting (Recto), Text (Verso), Illustrated Folio From A Manuscript Of The Divan (Collected Works) Of Hafiz
2007.183.2 recto (painting) © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Attributed to Sultan Muhammad, Persian ( 16th century)
Lovers' Picnic, painting (recto), text (verso), illustrated folio from a manuscript of the Divan (Collected Works) of Hafiz
Work Type
manuscript folio
c. 1530
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Safavid period
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands
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Physical Descriptions
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
19 x 12.4 cm (7 1/2 x 4 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: A couplet by Hafiz is written in the text blocks at the upper edge of the painting. It has been translated by Martin B. Dickson to read: "A rose without the glow of a lover bears no joy; Without wine to drink, the spring brings no joy."
  • inscription: In the text blocks at the upper edge of the painting (translated by Martin B. Dickson): "A rose without the glow of a lover bears no joy; / Without wine to drink, the spring brings no joy."
Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., Contootook, NH, (by 2007), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2007.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Stuart Cary Welch in honor of Edith Iselin Gilbert Welch
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
This well-known painting features a pair of courtly lovers in a spring garden. Holding hands, they are seated on a carpet, shaded by a canopy bearing an exuberant arabesque. A wine bearer offers the young man a golden bowl; musicians and dancers perform in the foreground on the banks of a stream bordered by flowers. The painting appears on what was once folio 66 recto of a famous manuscript of the Divan of Hafiz and illustrates the 229th ghazal of Hafiz (P. Loloi, Hafiz Master of Persian Poetry, A critical Poetry, New York, 2004, p.149). Only the first line of the poem is shown on the illustrated page and the rest of the poem can be found on the verso side. Because the name of Sam Mirza (b. 1517), brother to the Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp, appears on one of the now dispersed paintings, it is posited that the prince was the patron of the manuscript.

Label Text: Early Safavid Painting 1501 - 1576, written 1987
Royal Lovers Picnicking in a Garden
From the Divan (The Collected Works) of Hafiz
Attributed to the Sultan-Muhammad
Persian, Safavid, Tabriz, 1526 – 27
Opaque watercolor on paper
Private Collection

Label Text: The Heavenly Court: Persian Poetry and Painting, written 1985
30. Royal Lovers Picnicking in a Garden
from a Divan of Hafiz
attributable to Sultan Muhammad
Iran, Isfahan, ca.1526–27
Private Collection 716.1983

The verse from Hafiz at the top of the painting reads (translated by M. Dickson):
A rose without the glow of a lover bears no joy;
Without wine to drink the spring brings no joy.

Label Text: Five Masters of Persian and Indian Painting, written 1992
Royal Lovers Picnicking in a Garden
From the Divan (Poetical Anthology) of Hafiz, folio 66a
Persian, Tabriz, Safavid, 1520
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Private Collection

Label Text: Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, written 1990
Royal Lovers Picnicking in a Garden
Attributed to Sultan-Muhammad
From a Divan (Collected Works) of Hafiz
Iran, Safavid Tabriz
Manuscript ca. 1527
Opaque watercolor on paper
Private collection

Publication History

Armenag Sakisian, La Miniature Persane du XIIe au XVIIe Siecle, Les Editions G. van Oest (Paris, France, 1929), pp. 113, pl. LXXXI, fig. 146

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), pp. 112, 115, 116, 128-9:illus. Pl. LXXXIII A, no. 127

Ivan Stchoukine, Les peintures des manuscrits safavis 1502-1587, P. Guenther (Paris, 1959), pp. 60-61

Basil Gray, La Peinture Persane, Skira (Geneve, 1961), pp. 130, 136, 137

Stuart Cary Welch, Persian Painting: Five Royal Safavid Manuscripts of the Sixteenth Century, George Braziller (New York, 1976), p. 117

Stuart Cary Welch, Wonders of the Age: Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501-1576, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1979), pp. 122-23

Martin Bernard Dickson and Stuart Cary Welch, The Houghton Shahnameh, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1981), pp.37-39, 58

Elizabeth Murray, Cultivating Sacred Space: Gardening for the Soul, Pomegranate (San Francisco, 1997), page 22

Harvard Art Museum, Harvard Art Museum Annual Report 2007-2008 (Cambridge, 2009), p. 34

Tina Marie Theresa D'Alessandro Powell, Picnic in Pisticci, Big Fat Pen Publishing, Inc. (Canada, 2012), p. 39, ill.; p. 98

Farid al-Din Attar, Layli Anvar, and Michael Barry, Le Cantique des Oiseaux: illustré par la peinture en Islam d’orient, Diane de Selliers (Paris, 2012), p. 278, ill. p. 279.

Related Works
Verification Level

2 - Adequate. Object is adequately described but information may not be vetted