This portrait of a well-dressed youth playing a flute is an important example of the single-figure portraits painted by Mu'in Musavvir (1617-1708), who was one of the greatest and most prolific Persian artists of the seventeenth century. He was a student of the great court painter Reza-i Abbasi and a portrait of his master by Mu'in survives in the Princeton University Library (Garrett Coll.96G). His long career (c.1635-1707) gave him the opportunity to produce a large corpus of work, and although much of it was concerned with traditional manuscript illustration, including several Shahnama manuscripts, he also took the art of single-page compositions to new heights (see Farhad 1990).
Mu'in painted two other miniatures closely related to the present piece within the first three months of the year A.H. 1087. A youth on horseback was painted on 5th Muharram 1087/21st March 1676 and a youthful shepherd playing the pipes was painted just two days before the present piece, on 21st Rabi' al-Awwal 1087/4th June 1676. Both these works were sold in these rooms: 23rd November 1976, lot 253 and 23rd April 1979, lot 77.
Three other related works are a portrait of the royal physician Hakim Shafa'i painted in 1674 (sold in these rooms, 7th April 1975, lot 53, and now in the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Collection, see Canby 1998, no.60), a portrait of the Sultan al-Ulema Khalifa Sultan 'Itimad al-Daula, painted around 1650 (sold at Christie's, London, 23rd April 1981, lot 120, now in the Art and History Trust Collection, see Soudavar 1992, p.289) and a portrait of a youth in an orange robe, sold in these rooms 2nd May 1977, lot 56, and again, 15th October 1998, lot 65.
For further reading and illustrations of Mu'in's work see:
Canby 1998, nos.55-61.