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A NOBLE OUT HAWKING
A PRIVATE COLLECTION DONATED TO BENEFIT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
A NOBLE OUT HAWKING

SCHOOL OF SHAYKH 'ABBASI, SAFAVID ISFAHAN, THIRD QUARTER 17TH CENTURY

Details
A NOBLE OUT HAWKING
SCHOOL OF SHAYKH 'ABBASI, SAFAVID ISFAHAN, THIRD QUARTER 17TH CENTURY
Gouache heightened with gold on paper, an elegantly noble dressed is depicted out hawking on horseback, a hawk chases a crane in the top right, around them a wooded lanscape, set within a blue border and black rules on wide brown margins, areas of rubbing
Painting 7¾ x 10 1/8in. (19.7 x 27cm.); folio 10½ x 14in. (26.8 x 35.7cm.)
Provenance
Rothschild Collection,
Sold Colnaghi, Persian and Mughal Art, London, 1976, no.58
Literature
P and D Colnaghi, Persian and Mughal Art, exhibtion catalogue, London, 1976, no.58, p.155

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Lot Essay

The introduction of both Indian and European elements into Safavid painting is generally attributed to the artist Shaykh 'Abbasi, although others such as Bahram Sofrakesh were thought to be working in a pre-emptive style slightly before him (Robert Skelton, 'Abbasi, Sayk', Encyclopedia Iranica, London, 1985, pp.86-78). By the third quarter of the 17th century, several Iranian artists used Indian elements in their work, often also combined with European influences (Navina N. Haidar Haykel, 'A Lacquer Pen-Box by Manohar: An Example of Late Safavid-Style Painting in India', Rosemary Crill, Susan Strong and Andrew Topsfield (eds.), Arts of Mughal India. Studies in Honour of Robert Skelton, London, 2004, p.186). In addition to 'Abbasi himself, the artists practicing in this style included his sons, 'Ali Naqi and Muhammad Taqi as well as Muhammad Sharif. Although painting in a more Europeanised manner, the near-contemporaneous work of the artists Muhammad Zaman and 'Ali Quli Jibbadar also reveals the hybrid nature of much Safavid painting of the period. It is worth noting that at the same period there still existed the extension of the classical Safavid style, practiced by artists such as Mu'in Musavvir (see lot 34 in this sale) and Muhammad Yusuf, but it was curiously the 'hybrid' styles that later developed into Zand and Qajar painting.

Our painting presents a number of features closely associated with 'Abbasi's work. The figures are stiffly posed though with smoothly graded modeling and extremely finely stippled faces often with pointed chins, darkly accented eyes and a sweetness of expression. Wooded landscapes, like that seen here, often populate the backgrounds of 'Abbasi's works, as, for example, in a painting of 'Solomon's Judgment' from the Benkaim Collection (Haykel, op.cit., fig.12, p.184). As well as ladies or youths in a landscape, his subjects frequently include both equestrian subjects and portraits of rulers (notably Shah 'Abbas II and Shah Suleyman, under whom he worked) (Skelton, op.cit., p.186). A similar painting of a Safavid official on horseback by Shaykh 'Abbasi is in the Walters Art Museum (W.668, f.22b, http://www.flickr.com/photos/medmss/5888815434/in/photostream/).

The Indian influence in our painting is clear. The coat worn here by the principal figure, with its floral sprays embroidered on gold ground, is very Mughal in feel. It closely resembles one worn by a Mughal official in a painting signed by Shaykh 'Abbasi which depicts Shah 'Abbas II and the Mughal Ambassador (Anthony Welch, Shah 'Abbas and the Arts of Isfahan, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1973, no.62, pp.98-100). Similarly his elaborate turban has elegant panels of Mughal-style floral sprays at the end, recalling that depicted in a bust portrait attributed to the artist (Soudavar, op.cit., no.147, p.368).

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