This lively and enigmatic drawing of a snake-charmer relates to two illustrations of warriors in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (Zebrowski 1983, p.25, nos.12-13). The Freer and Boston examples were almost certainly drawn to face each other in the same album and were originally attributed by F.R. Martin to the Timurid school around 1430 (Martin 1912, pl.55). However, Zebrowski points out that the emphasis on the weight and volume of the human body is more Indian than Persian. A third portrait, this time of a Dervish, in the Sir Cowasji Jehangir Collection in Bombay is also from the same group (Zebrowski 1983, p.26, no.14). Zebrowski suggests that all three paintings may have been painted in the Deccan, possibly at Ahmadnagar in the late 15th or 16th century; or if the artist worked in Iran or Central Asia, his style was somehow transplanted to the Deccan (ibid., p.27).
The present drawing is clearly from a similar tradition, but the subject matter, costume and accoutrements mean there can be no doubt about its Indian origin. A stylistically related, but slightly later drawing of Two Dervishes with a Dog is in the Austrian National Library, Vienna (see Duda 1983, vol.1, p.271, Min.64, Fol.31, vol.2, Pl.468). A drawing of a courtesan executed in a very similar style, and dated to circa 1600, was formerly in the Pan Asian Collection, sold in these rooms, 20 June 1983, lot 89.
A second, extremely similar version of a snake-charmer is lot 7 in this sale.
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