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A TAMBUR PLAYER
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A TAMBUR PLAYER

BY SHAYKH 'ABBASI, AH 1077/1666-7 AD

Details
A TAMBUR PLAYER
BY SHAYKH 'ABBASI, AH 1077/1666-7 AD
Pen and wash heightened with gold on paper, an Indian lady seated against a cushion on the grass playing the tambur, inscribed in a cartouche below baha gereft cho gardid Shaykh 'Abbasi 1077, mounted on card with floral and calligraphic borders, outer cream margins with gold illumination
Folio 13 7/8 x 8¾in. (35.2 x 22.2cm.); miniature 4 x 2½in. (10 x 6.2cm.)
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Lot Essay

Few details are known of the life of the artist Shaykh 'Abbasi, whose dated works show him as being active during the reigns of Shah 'Abbas II and Shah Sulayman. His style is characterised by the use of pointillism for shading and creating volume in figures, but also by his choice of subjects. There is no evidence that he worked in India yet he frequently chose Indian men and women as his subjects.

The distinctive formula of his signature, which he frequently used, tranlates as:
'It (or he) achieved worth because he became Shaykh 'Abbasi', in other words he or his work gained value because his patron Shah 'Abbas II had permitted the use of the nisba 'Abbasi.
His work marks a break from the established conventions of 17th century painting, taking on both European and Indian elements with a distinctive style. He was thus a forerunner of the trend in Iranian painting which later developed into the Qajar style.

A painting of a Young Man of Fashion was sold in these rooms, 14 October 2003, lot 133. It was mounted in a similar fashion with calligraphic margins and may have come from the same album.

Examples of his work are in the Art and History Trust Collection (Soudavar, A.: Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, nos.146, 147, pp.367-8); in the Musée Guimet, Paris, 7166 (Zebrowski, M.: Deccani Painting, London, 1983, p.197); collection of the later Edwin Binney III (Islamic art from the collection of Edwin Binney III, Washington, 1966, no.5); Keir collection (Robinson, B.W. et.al: Islamic painting and the Arts of the Book, London, 1976, p.212, no.395, Pl.90.
Encyclopaedia Iranica, Vol.I, article by Robert Skelton, pp.86-88.
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