VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buy… Read more A FOLIO FROM THE ST. PETERSBURG MURAQQA'


Imperial Mughal School, circa 1610
Mounted as a leaf for the St. Petersburg Muraqqa', verso as originally mounted with tinted drawing on paper, with a family of lions, the male attacking a nilgai, within a carefully studied and naturalistic landscape, with pairs of foxes, ducks, storks, monkeys and other mammals and birds, watched by a group of men attending a Mughal prince, the entire miniature later extended all round by a thin strip which continues the scene, mounted on a cream album page with scenes of animals in foliage painted in gold, the Persian numeral 48 above, recto with three panels of Safavid nasta'liq calligraphy by Mir 'Imad Al-Hasani, within clouds reserved against gold ground with polychrome floral illumination, mounted on the album page of dark blue margins with gold floral decoration, signed by Muhammad Hadi, slight discoloration to the miniature in parts, one corner of the margin loose, old repair, otherwise good condition, mounted, framed and glazed
Folio 12½ x 18¾ (32.3 x 48cm.); Miniature 6 x 9½in. (15.5 x 24.2cm.); miniature including later additions 7¼ x 10¼in. (18.5 x 27cm.); text block on recto 7½ x 10¾in. (19.2 x 27.5cm.)
Dikran Kelekian, New York
V. Everit Macy, sold American Art Association, Anderson galleries, Inc., 8 January 1938 from where purchased by the father of the present owner.
Special notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

The album now known as the St. Petersburg muraqqa' was obtained in 1909 by the Russian Aulic Councillor Ostrogradsky from Jews in Tehran who had in turn purchased it from the Royal Library there (Francesca v. Habsburg et al., The St. Petersburg Muraqqa', Lugano, 1996, p.20). At that stage the manuscript contained exactly 100 leaves. In 1912 the Metropolitan Museum purchased one leaf which appears to be the earliest provenance on any of the leaves outside Russia. In 1931 six of the best folios of all were sold to the Freer Gallery and it must have been at around that time that the present leaf was sold to V. Everit Macy. In the original layout the present leaf was the facing page from that in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; both have lightly tinted drawings and identical borders.

The draughtsmanship in this drawing is of the highest order. The lion attacking the nilgai has wonderful musculature, but there is also an excellent sense of humour shown in some of the features of the animals and a number of the small details, including the memento mori in the foreground. These are consistent with the work of Manohar, one of the most skilled of the artists working for Jahangir. His known ability to depict animals is shown by his painting of Dil Pasand, Dara Shikoh's favourite horse (Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London, 1981, pl.55, p.372). This kind of composition with a pronounced area of water, conveying a feeling of space despite a crowded arrangement of the scene, and a muted colour scheme is to be found in his works such as the depiction of Majnun weeping at his father's grave in the British Museum (Amina Okada, Imperial Mughal Painters, Paris, 1992, pl.163, p.143). An even closer painting, signed by Manohar, is in the Khalili Collection (Linda York Leach, Paintings from India, London, 1998, no.16, pp.68-9), although the way the central animal combat group is separated from the rest of the composition is more like a painting attributed by Stuart Cary Welch to Miskin (From Mind, Heart and Hand, Harvard, 2004, no.20, pp.86-70).

More from Arts of India

View All
View All