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Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.23
Title
Lovers Embracing, folio from an album
Classification
Albums
Work Type
album folio
Date
ca. 1650
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/149261
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
33.5 x 22 cm (13 3/16 x 8 11/16 in.)
Provenance
Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1974-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.23
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
To make this drawing, the artist used three colors of ink: black and red for the figures, and gold for the wispy, swaying trees and flowering plants of the outdoor setting. Gold also highlights robe lapels and buttons, trouser hems, turban trim, and the accoutrements of wine drinking—a small cup and a tall-necked ewer. The lining of the woman’s robe is filled in with blue; used together with white, this pigment defines the bowl behind the ewer as a blue-and-white ceramic (likely Iranian-made imitation porcelain).
The primary subject of the drawing is one of intimate, private bliss: a man lovingly embraces a woman, hugging her around the waist and lifting her from the ground, while she in turn snatches the turban from his head and carelessly upends her wine cup.
Despite its individualized charm, this depiction of a loving couple represents a fairly common type. It shares with other drawings of the period, also classifiable by their human subjects, key elements of artistic execution—sinuous, carefully weighted contour outlines, “check marks” terminating knotted and bunched textiles, and fine stippling applied only to faces and hair—each element showing the artist’s fluency in a particular drafting technique.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
124

Lovers Embracing
Iran, probably Isfahan, Safavid period, c. 1650
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Folio: 33.5 × 22 cm (13 3/16 × 8 11/16 in.)
2002.50.23

To make this drawing, the artist used three colors of ink: black and red for the figures, and gold for the wispy, swaying trees and flowering plants of the outdoor setting. Gold also highlights robe lapels and buttons, trouser hems, turban trim, and the accoutrements of wine drinking—a small cup and a tall-necked ewer. The lining of the woman’s robe is filled in with blue; used together with white, this pigment defines the bowl behind the ewer as a blue-and-white ceramic (likely Iranian-made imitation porcelain).

The primary subject of the drawing is one of intimate, private bliss: a man lovingly embraces a woman, hugging her around the waist and lifting her from the ground, while she in turn snatches the turban from his head and carelessly upends her wine cup.

Despite its individualized charm, this depiction of a loving couple represents a fairly common type.[1] It shares with other drawings of the period, also classifiable by their human subjects,2 key elements of artistic execution—sinuous, carefully weighted contour outlines, “check marks” terminating knotted and bunched textiles, and fine stippling applied only to faces and hair—each element showing the artist’s fluency in a particular drafting technique.

David J. Roxburgh

[1] See, for example, Farhad 1987, cats. 10, 24.
[2] For instance, standing, sitting, or reclining single figures, male (cats. 121, 122) or female (cat. 123); paired men in conversation (cats. 119, 120) or amorous embrace (cat. 125); grooms with horses (cat. 119).

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 257-258, cat. 124, ill.

Exhibition History

Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu