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SHAH 'ABBAS OF PERSIA RECEIVING THE MUGHAL AMBASSADOR KHAN 'ALAM IN 1618
SHAH 'ABBAS OF PERSIA RECEIVING THE MUGHAL AMBASSADOR KHAN 'ALAM IN 1618

NORTH INDIA, LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY

Details
SHAH 'ABBAS OF PERSIA RECEIVING THE MUGHAL AMBASSADOR KHAN 'ALAM IN 1618
NORTH INDIA, LATE 17TH/EARLY 18TH CENTURY
Opaque pigments heightened with gold on paper, Shah 'Abbas sits to the right wearing his distinctive headdress and offering a gold dish to the Mughal ambassador Khan 'Alam who wears an elaborate turban set with a sarpech, a rubbed Persian identification inscription in black nasta'liq along the bottom, between thin gold borders on red margins, areas of rubbing and flaking
9¼ x 6¼in. (23.5 x 15.8cm.)

Brought to you by

Behnaz Atighi Moghaddam
Behnaz Atighi Moghaddam Associate Specialist

Lot Essay

The historic meeting depicted in this painting took place in Isfahan in November 1618 and was recorded not only by the Mughal artist Bishan Das but also the Persian artist Riza. Bishan Das was an important artist working at the court of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. He was chosen by Jahangir to accompany the Mughal Ambassador Khan ‘Alam to the Safavid court of Shah ‘Abbas at Isfahan in 1613. Known Mughal illustrations of this meeting postdate Bishan Das’s departure from Persia as Bishan Das returned to the Mughal court in 1620. A depiction of the meeting, signed by Bishan Das and dating circa 1625, sold at Sotheby’s London, 17th October 1983, lot 64. The Late Shah Jahan Album also includes an illustration of this meeting, ascribed to Bishan Das and dated to circa 1650 (Beach, 1978, no. 36, p.109).

There is a later version based on Bishan Das’s illustrations, painted in Delhi and dated to circa 1800, in the Victoria and Albert Museum (IS.219-1951). The figures seated below Khan ‘Alam are identified here as Isha Khan Torchi Basi in yellow and Sharim Khaji in white dress, and the figure below Shah Abbas is Isphandier Beg in pale purple and wearing gloves.

The earlier Bishan Das paintings would certainly have served as a prototype for our painting. The artist of our work has added additional figures to the work including a row of spectators and some horses to the upper register and a group of musicians in the middle section. Shah ‘Abbas and Khan ‘Alam are seated with their attendants in the foreground, as seen in the earlier renditions. A close comparable is an 18th century illustration in the British Library which also includes the additional figures as seen in our painting (museum no. 1974,0617,0.15.37).
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