• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7843

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    13 April 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 299


    AWADH, CIRCA 1760

    Price Realised  


    AWADH, CIRCA 1760
    Gouache heightened with gold on paper, Sultan Ibrahim of Balkh after become a Sufi, his head surrounded by a nimbus, sits cross-legged under a tree leaning on a staff and wearing pink trousers and sheer shirt, before him a band of angels with brightly coloured wings and clothes stand or perch in a nearby tree offering gold vessels, a moonlit landscape surrounds them, with silvery lake behind on the banks of which sits another lonely hermit, a small town on the horizon, laid down on pink card with gold floral illumination
    Miniature 9¼ x 7¼in. (23.6 x 18cm.)

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    The subject of this miniature was a popular one in eighteenth century Mughal painting. Based on the legend by Farid al-Din 'Attar, Sultan Ibrahim bin Adham (d.776-77), gave up the Kingdom of Balkh to become a Dervish. He was visited by angels who bought him ten dishes of food inciting the jealousy of another poor dervish, also painted into miniatures of this subject. One such miniature, attributed to the Lucknow/Faizabad artist Hunhar and dated circa 1760-70 is in the Polsky collection (Andrew Topsfield (ed.), In the Realm of Gods and Kings. Arts of India, London, 2004, no. 80, pp.196-97). Others, from Lucknow and Murshidabad respectively, are in the India Office Library (Toby Falk and Mildred Archer, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London, 1981, nos.325 and 367) and in The St. Petersburg Muraqqa' (Milan, 1996, pl.90/folio 53 recto). Another very similar miniature, also attributed to Awadh, circa 1750, is published in Patrick Carré, Dieux, tigres et amours. Miniatures indiennes du XVe au XXe siècle, Spain, 1993, pp.112-113.

    Many of these miniatures share the fact that they are dependant on European imagery for the figures depicted, probably based on a now lost 17th century version of the subject where Ibrahim was derived from a figure of Christ as depicted in the 'Poor Mans Bible' of 1593 which arrived in the Mughal court in 1595 (Gavin Bailey, The St. Petersburg Muraqqa', Milan, 1996, p. 81).

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