52
52
A Rare Concertina-form Album of Miniatures and Calligraphy (Muraqqa’), Persia, 16th-19th century
Estimation
50 00070 000
Lot. Vendu 140,500 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
52
A Rare Concertina-form Album of Miniatures and Calligraphy (Muraqqa’), Persia, 16th-19th century
Estimation
50 00070 000
Lot. Vendu 140,500 GBP (Prix d’adjudication avec commission acheteur)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Arts of the Islamic World

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A Rare Concertina-form Album of Miniatures and Calligraphy (Muraqqa’), Persia, 16th-19th century
Of concertina form, 28 album pages in total joined together, within a late 19th-century leather binding with lacquer borders filled with scrolling gilt foliage and red doublures, start and end of album with 2 Qajar lacquered miniatures of Fath 'Ali Shah Qajar and a stag, the rest of the leaves comprising 20 miniatures depicting figures, birds and animals, 6 panels of calligraphy and 2 photographs cut from circa 1900 book-plates, the miniatures and calligraphy laid down with outer 16th-19th illuminated borders  
32.5 by 20.5cm.
612cm. extended.

 

 
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Description

The present muraqqa' represents an extremely rare intact album of drawings and calligraphy, many such albums having been broken up into their constituent parts over the centuries and dispersed into countless collections.

Drawings began to be kept in albums from the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, as demonstrated by the albums housed in the Topkapi Saray Museum. By the end of the sixteenth century drawings were in high demand, collected by rulers such as Shah 'Abbas as well as courtiers and other wealthy patrons. The present album, judging by the varied content, borders and binding, appears to have been put together in the late nineteenth century, and has been assembled in a charming, personal manner; when opened like a book, similar animals, dervishes and other figures confront each other, interspersed with various calligraphic panels. The contents of the muraqqa’ is as follows:

fl.1a. A lacquered portrait of Fath ‘Ali Shah on horseback with an attendant, Persia, Qajar, 19th century
fl.1b. A drawing of dervish holding a cup and bottle, Persia, Safavid, second half 17th century
fl.2a. A drawing of a dervish holding a pomegranate, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.2b. A coloured drawing of a couple by a stream, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.3a. A coloured drawing of youth at study, Persia or Deccan, mid-17th century
fl.3b. A coloured drawing of a European drinking from a bottle, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.4a. A coloured drawing of a European holding a vase of flowers, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.4b/5a. Two illuminated nasta’liq quatrains, Persia, Qajar, 19th century
fl.5b. A partially coloured drawing of fantastical intertwined animals, Persia, Safavid, 16th century  
fl.6a. A drawing of a dragon emerging from its lair, signed by Murtaza Quli Shamlu, Persia, Safavid, mid-17th century
fl.6b. A drawing of a dervish within a rocky landscape, style of Reza-i 'Abbasi, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.7a. A partially coloured drawing of a dervish under a tree with a huqqa, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.7b. A drawing of a simurgh chick, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.8a. A coloured drawing of a pair of lapwings, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.8b/9a. Two printed illustrations from Wa’iz Kashifi’s al-mawahib al-alliyya, circa 1900
fl.9b. A drawing of a dervish leaning on a stick, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.10a. A small drawing of a kneeling dervish, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.10b. A drawing of a bear chained to a post, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.11a. A partially coloured drawing of a strutting camel, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.11b. An illuminated quatrain in nasta’liq script, signed by Mir ‘Ali, Persia, Safavid, 16th century
fl.12a. A panel of illuminated calligraphy in shikasteh ta’liq script, attributable to Ikhtiyar al-Munshi, Persia, Safavid, 16th century
fl.12b. A drawing of a maiden wrapped in a shawl, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.13a. A partially coloured drawing of a lady holding a bottle, signed by Aqa Reza, Persia, Safavid, late 16th century
fl.13b. A drawing of a mounted hunter, attributable to Reza-i ‘Abbasi, Persia, Safavid, late 16th century
fl.14a. Two drawings: a kneeling youth with cup and bottle and a heron catching a snake, Persia, Safavid, 17th century
fl.14b. A lacquered painting of a stag, Persia, Qajar, 19thcentury (with composite sections)

A number of miniatures in the present album are of considerable interest. The fluid and lively dragon crawling into life on fl.6a (see inside front cover) is signed by Murtaza Quli Shamlu, who is recorded by Karimzadeh as a commander at the court of Shah Suleyman (1077-1105 AH/1666-94 AD) with the post of ‘sword holder’ and governor of Qom (see Mohammad Ali Karimzadeh Tabrizi, The Lives & Art of Old Painters of Iran, vol. 3, London 1991, pp.1144-5). Four works by him are recorded, but only one is dated (1064 AH/1653-4 AD). A further drawing by Murtaza Quli Shamlu, a lion chained to a post, was sold in these rooms 2 May 1977, lot 95.

Folio 13b depicts a finely executed and detailed horse and rider, similar to a drawing signed by Reza-i 'Abbasi that represents part of an album page sold in these rooms, 8 July 1980, lot 212 and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (published in S. Canby, The Rebellious Reformer, London, 1996, p.52, Cat.16). The treatment of the horse's head, knotted tail, as well as the rocky landscape are so closely comparable in both drawings that we can suggest the possibility of master artist Reza-i 'Abbasi as responsible for both.

A further highlight of the muraqqa' is the portrait of the lady holding a bottle, signed by Aqa Reza, on folio 13a. Aqa Reza was the name of the young Reza 'Abbasi before he entered the service of Shah 'Abbas in the late sixteenth century. This particular drawing can be compared to a portrait of a 'Woman With a Veil', attributed to Reza-i 'Abbasi in the Art and History Trust Collection, (published in Soudavar 1992, pp.270-1, no.109). The figure's robes, as well as the light gold plants and cloud bands in the surrounding space, are very similar, as too is the execution of the face, particularly the treatment of the eyes, lips and chin.

Three miniatures of dervishes within the album (those on folios 6b, 9b and 10a) also share similarities with the work of Reza-i 'Abbasi. The kneeling dervish with his prayer beads (fl.6b) shares a striking likeness with another dervish by Reza's hand dated 1035 AH/1626 AD, particularly the nose, and it is known that dervishes were among Reza's favourite subjects (see ibid, p.269, no.108).

Whilst the simurgh chick (fl.7b), mischievous bear (fl.10b) and strutting camel (fl.11a) exhibit charm and humour, (the latter is a topos the like of which can be found in numerous places, including the Harvard University Art Museums, see S.C. Welch and K. Masteller, From Mind, Heart, and Hand, Cambridge, MA, 2004, pp.41-43, no.2), perhaps the best qualilty work in the album can be found on folio 5b, in which we see an extraordinary intertwined fantasy of birds, fish, dragons and foliage, with the stems terminating in dragon and bird heads. Complex compositions such as these, whilst decorative art works in themselves, were often working sketches for drawings and paintings, or design sketches for the decoration of objects in other media, such as textiles, ceramics, chests or bookbindings. The present example can be compared to a panel of arabesques with a dragon parrot in the Harvard University Art Museums (published in ibid, pp.38-40, no.1), as well as a decorative drawing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (M.L. Swietochowski and S. Babaie, Persian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, pp.12-13, no.1).

Arts of the Islamic World

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