• 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 92

    THE DEATH OF TOVORG

    PROBABLY QAZVIN, SAFAVID IRAN, THE TEXT WRITTEN BY MUHY, AH 975/1563 AD

    Price Realised  

    THE DEATH OF TOVORG
    PROBABLY QAZVIN, SAFAVID IRAN, THE TEXT WRITTEN BY MUHY, AH 975/1563 AD
    An illustration to the Shahnama of Firdawsi, gouache heightened with gold on paper, Tovorg, the Chinese Emperor's brother is engaged in battle, both warriors on horseback and with finely illuminated clothes and saddle cloths, Tovorg is speared by his enemy causing him to fall from his horse, a number of supporters look on from the side of the composition or from behind the rocky horizon, many mounted on horseback and playing instruments, six columns of nasta'liq above and below, reverse with 25ll. of nasta'liq in six columns with double gold intercolumnar rules, one title in larger gold nasta'liq, text and miniture between blue, gold and green rules on wide borders
    Miniature 8½ x 6 3/8in. (21.5 x 16.3cm.) at largest; folio 13¼ x 8 7/8in. (33.6 x 22.4cm.)


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    This miniature and that of the following lot are from a dated Shahnama manuscript copied by the scribe Muhyi. Other miniatures from this manuscript have sold in these Rooms, 11 October 2005, lots 100 and 101. Another sold more recently, 6 October 2009, lot 144. Two of those were signed by the artist Siyavush, an artist accredited with nineteen paintings from the Shahnama made for Shah Isma'il II (1576-77) (see B.W. Robinson, 'Isma'il II's Copy of the Shahnama', Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies, Vol. 14, 1-8). Whilst probably not attributable to Siyavush himself, our miniatures are probably the product of an artist working closely alongside him and displaying a number of stylistic similarities.

    Miniatures from this period occupy an important position in the history of Persian painting, spanning the period between the reigns of Shah Tahmasp and Shah 'Abbas I. Shah Isma'il II's brief reign of eighteen months was amongst the most bloody and disruptive of those of the Safavids. As well being responsible for the murder of most of his family, he was neglectful of affairs of state. However, he did not neglect the arts, and most probably commissioned the Shahnama manuscript discussed above shortly after his succession. He quickly assembled an atelier of young artists in his capital of Qazvin, including Zayn al-Abidin, Sadiq Beg, 'Ali Ashgar, Naqdi, Murad, Mihrab, Burji and Siyavush. See also B.W. Robinson, Persian Miniature Painting, London, 1967, no.56, p.62.

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