Gallery Text

Themes of lovers and wine appear frequently in the works of the Persian poet Hafiz and may be understood on many levels, from descriptions of earthly pleasures to metaphors for poetic inspiration or transcendental spiritual states. In the ecstatic garden scene above, a prince reaches for a cup of wine with one hand and joins the other with his beloved’s, echoing the verses at the top:

A rose without the glow of a lover bears no joy;

Without wine to drink the spring brings no joy.

The painting above has been attributed to Sultan Muhammad, one of the most inventive and accomplished painters of his age. The artist left one of his very few signatures on the remarkable painting below, which blends elegance with earthy humor. A close look at the vignette of the youth reaching into a jar reveals a deft touch: the relief decoration on the jars and the folds on the turban of his interlocutor are rendered in impasto.

This painting depicts a multi-storied drinking party, where the revelry devolves from angelic wine tasting on the roof to stupor on the lawn below. Here the painter has liberally interpreted the couplet at the top of the page, which begins, “The angel of mercy took the reveling cup...”

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Sultan Muhammad, Persian (16th century)
Heavenly and Earthly Drunkenness (text, verso; text recto), folio from a manuscript of Divan of Hafiz
Work Type
manuscript folio
c. 1530
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Tabriz
Safavid period
Physical Descriptions
Ink, color and gold on paper
28.5 x 18 cm (11 1/4 x 7 1/16 in.)
Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch, Jr., Contoocook, NH, (by 1988), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1988.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Stuart Cary Welch Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Cary Welch in honor of the students of Harvard University and Radcliffe College, Jointly owned by the Harvard Art Museums and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Stuart Cary Welch, A King's Book of Kings: The Shah-Nameh of Shah Tahmasp, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1976), p. 58

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

Johann Christoph Burgel, ed., Orientalisches Mittelalter: Reflections on angels past and present and true stories of how they touch our lives, Academic Publishing Company (Wiesbaden, 1990), P. 518

Bonnie Wade, Imaging Sound: An Ethnomusicological Study of Music, Art, and Culture in Mughal India, Chicago University Press (Chicago, 1998), Fig. 119

Exhibition History

The Here and the Hereafter: Images of Paradise in Islamic Art, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 03/16/1991 - 05/26/1991

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014 - 05/14/2015

Related Works

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