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)
Earthly Drunkenness (painting recto; text verso), illustrated 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, gold and silver on paper
actual: 28.7 x 35.5 cm (11 5/16 x 14 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: The work of Sultan-Muhammad of 'Iraq
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

Armenag Sakisian, La Miniature Persane du XIIe au XVIIe Siecle, Les Editions G. van Oest (Paris, France, 1929), page 80/figure 144

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), p. 128, fig. LXXV

Basil William Robinson, Persian Drawings from the 14th through the 19th Century, Shorewood Publishers Inc. (New York, NY, 1965), pp.134, plate 33

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, Persian Painting: Five Royal Safavid Manuscripts of the Sixteenth Century, George Braziller (New York, 1976), pp. 68, 69/ plate 18

Stuart Cary Welch, Wonders of the Age: Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501-1576, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1979), pp.128-129, fig. 44

Martin Bernard Dickson and Stuart Cary Welch, The Houghton Shahnameh, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1981), pp. 38; 56-58; 66; 69; 70 / fig. 38; 51-55; 71; 84; 86

Michele de Angelis and Thomas W. Lentz, Architecture in Islamic Painting: Permanent and Impermanent Worlds, brochure, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, Mass, 1982)

History of the World, brochure, Asahi Shimbun Press (Tokyo, Japan, 1989), A-246

Sheila Blair, ed., Images of Paradise In Islamic Art, exh. cat., University of Tennessee Press (Austin, TX, 1991), p. 105, fig. 44

Esin Atil, "Humor and Wit in Islamic Art", Asian Art & Culture, ed. Karen Sagstetter, Oxford University Press (NY) (New York, NY, Fall/Winter 1994), vol. 7, no. 1, p. 21, fig. 10

Sheila Blair and Jonathan Bloom, Art and Architecture of Islam: 1250 - 1800 (New Haven, CT, 1994), p. 169, fig. 211

Jerry H. Combee, History of the World in Christian Perspective, Beka Book Publication (Pensacola, FL, 1995)

James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, 1996), page 134-135

Sarah Coakley, ed., Religion and the Body, Cambridge University Press (U.K.) (Cambridge, England, 1997), p. 266

Albert Craig, The Heritage of World Civilizations, Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ, 1997), p. 645

Bernard Lewis, A Middle East Mosaic, Random House (New York, 2000), p. 374

Oleg Grabar, Mostly Miniatures: An Introducation to Persian Painting, Princeton University Press (Princeton, 2000), p 68/fig 31

Studies In Islamic and Later Indian Art From the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2002), p. 10, fig. 1; details on p. 8 and cover

Priscilla Soucek, Interpreting the Ghazals of Hafiz, RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Cambridge, MA, Spring, 2003), No. 43, Islamic Arts, p. 157, fig. 5

John Renard, Historical Dictionary of Sufism, Scarecrow Press (Maryland, 2005), fig. 13

The Tangled Braid: Ninety-nine Poems by Hafiz of Shiraz, Fons Vitae (Louisville, KY, 2009), p. xx, and detail on book cover

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. 310, ill. pp. 311-312

Exhibition History

The Heavenly Court: Persian Poetry and Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 02/09/1985 - 03/31/1985

Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990

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

Five Masters of Persian and Indian Painting, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/11/1992 - 03/09/1992

Divinely Inspired: Images of Mystics and Mendicants, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/16/1999 - 03/29/1999

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

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