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Gouache heightened with gold on paper, the heavily armed warrior with a very finely painted face kneels upon a medallion carpet wearing a robe with short sleeves and an adorned fur hat, a mace, daggers, bow and arrow and shamshir amongst his weapons, laid down on gold speckled blue card between blue and gold rules, with gold speckled brown card margins, repair not affecting the miniature
21niature 6 7/8 x 4 1/8in. (17.3 x 10.5cm.); folio 13 7/8 x 9 3/8in. (35.4 x 23.9cm.)
Parish Watson & Co, New York
H. Kevorkian, New York and Paris
M. Sevadjian, Paris
Walter Schultz, Die persisch-islamische Miniatur-malerei, Leipzig, 1914, p.144-5, tafel O
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Romain Pingannaud
Romain Pingannaud

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Lot Essay

The Uzbek amir or warlord, always depicted heavily armed and with conical hat, sometimes with turban wrapped around, is a known subject from the mid-16th century. Three miniatures of the subject have been attributed to Shaykh Muhammad and are dated between 1557 and 1564. Shaykh Muhammad encountered Uzbek princes on several occasions whilst in the retinue of Ibrahim Mirza, and it is therefore not surprising that he chose them as subjects for his works (Abolala Soudavar, Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, p.236, no.91 and Stuart Cary Welch, Wonders of the Age, Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501-1576, Washington D.C., 1979, pp.198-99, no.77 and pp.204-05, no.80). A more popular take on the theme however was that of the Turkoman prisoner. Two versions of the subject, each wearing the traditional yoke restraint, are published in F.Sarre and F.R.Martin, Die Ausstellung von Meisterwerken Muhammedanischer Kunst in München 1910, London, 1985, Tafel 25. Both are dated circa 1500. A third is published in E.Borshchevskii (ed.), Persian Miniatures of XIV-XVII Centuries, Moscow, 1968, no.69. Another is in the Bodleian (B.W.Robinson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 1958, p.143, no.1036, pl.XXI). Until half-way through this century, this group of paintings were dated to the late 15th century and in a number of cases attributed to Bihzad. Robinson and Stchoukine did much to correct this, and Robinson dates the Bodleian example circa 1575.

Elements of the drawing of our Uzbek, including the round undulating wrinkles on the sleeves and loose strings hanging from the belt are in line with the Shaykh Muhammad examples, and a slightly earlier date therefore seems likely for ours.

A Persian version of the 'Turkoman prisoner' was copied in Mughal India by Aqa Riza between 1565-1600 (Asok Kumar Das, Mughal Masters. Further Studies, Mumbai, 1998, p.9, no.3). Another Mughal version is said to be in the Clive Album.

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