verso © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.34
Title
Iskandar Mourns the Dying Dara (painting, verso; text, recto), folio from a manuscript of the Shahnama by Firdawsi
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
1575-1590
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Shiraz
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165467
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
42.9 x 27.6 cm (16 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.)
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1990 or 1992], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1990 or 1992 - 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
2002.50.34
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Iskandar (Alexander the Great) and Dara (Darius, ruler of the Achaemenid empire), had waged war against each other for three years. While the Iranian forces were in retreat, Dara was stabbed by two of his ministers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, who expected a reward from Iskandar. But Iskandar, who had just learned that he was Dara’s half-brother, rushed to the scene of the attack and tenderly comforted his mortally wounded opponent.
In the center of this painting, Dara lies dying, his head cradled by Iskandar, who holds a blue handkerchief to his eyes and weeps. At left the two traitorous officers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, are shown bound, with their heads shaved; Iskandar has assured Dara that he will have them executed. Encircling the death scene are the mournful and bewildered entourages of the two rulers. These military men are depicted not only in the usual profile and three-quarter views but also frontally and from behind. Although Dara is the elder brother, in this painting it is the lamenting Iskandar who has the white beard.
The tragic scene takes place against a colorful background painted in light blue, mauve, and ochre; the flowers, grass, rocks, and trees of the landscape offset the grimness of the human drama. Figures and landscape have both been delineated in exceptional detail.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
99

Iskandar Mourns the Dying Dara
Recto: text, with title “Dara slain by his vizier”
Verso: text and illustration
Folio: 42.9 × 27.6 cm (16 7/8 × 10 7/8 in.)
2002.50.34

Iskandar (Alexander the Great) and Dara (Darius, ruler of the Achaemenid empire), had waged war against each other for three years. While the Iranian forces were in retreat, Dara was stabbed by two of his ministers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, who expected a reward from Iskandar. But Iskandar, who had just learned that he was Dara’s half-brother, rushed to the scene of the attack and tenderly comforted his mortally wounded opponent.

In the center of this painting, Dara lies dying, his head cradled by Iskandar, who holds a blue handkerchief to his eyes and weeps. At left the two traitorous officers, Mahiyar and Janusiyar, are shown bound, with their heads shaved; Iskandar has assured Dara that he will have them executed. Encircling the death scene are the mournful and bewildered entourages of the two rulers. These military men are depicted not only in the usual profile and three-quarter views but also frontally and from behind. Although Dara is the elder brother, in this painting it is the lamenting Iskandar who has the white beard.

The tragic scene takes place against a colorful background painted in light blue, mauve, and ochre; the flowers, grass, rocks, and trees of the landscape offset the grimness of the human drama. Figures and landscape have both been delineated in exceptional detail.

Mika M. Natif

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 117-121, ill.; pp. 239-240, cat. 99, ill.

Exhibition History

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