273
273
A leaf from Emperor Akbar's royal copy of the Jami al-Tawarikh of Rashid al-Din Fazlullah Hamadani (d.1318 AD): Burghul Nuyan killed on the battlefield, attributed to Basawan and Bhim Gujarati, India, Mughal, circa 1596
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273
A leaf from Emperor Akbar's royal copy of the Jami al-Tawarikh of Rashid al-Din Fazlullah Hamadani (d.1318 AD): Burghul Nuyan killed on the battlefield, attributed to Basawan and Bhim Gujarati, India, Mughal, circa 1596
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Details & Cataloguing

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A leaf from Emperor Akbar's royal copy of the Jami al-Tawarikh of Rashid al-Din Fazlullah Hamadani (d.1318 AD): Burghul Nuyan killed on the battlefield, attributed to Basawan and Bhim Gujarati, India, Mughal, circa 1596
gouache heightened with gold on paper, gold and coloured ruled borders, the reverse with 25 lines of nasta'liq script in black and red, mounted on an album page with buff borders, nasta'liq inscriptions along the lower edge with artists' attributions and the number '22' in Arabic numerals, owner's stamp to lower margin of reverse
painting: 33.2 by 19.3cm.
leaf: 36 by 25cm.
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Provenance

Ex-collection Joel and Maxine Spitz, Trail-Tree, Glencoe, Illinois, purchased between 1930 and 1950, thence by descent

Joel and Maxine Spitz, who married in 1924, were both children of 1870s Chicago clothing pioneers. After his father's death in 1924, Joel ran his family's clothing company, Samuel Spitz & Company, whilst Maxine Hart Spitz was the daughter of Max Hart, a founder of the firm that became Hart, Schaffner & Marx in 1887. Joel Spitz was a member of the Caxton Club (founded in 1895 by fifteen Chicago bibliophiles), the Grolier Club, as well as a Fellow of the Morgan Library. A superb French Book of Hours, circa 1420, that was once part of his collection is now in the J.P. Getty museum, known as 'The Spitz Hours'.

Catalogue Note

inscriptions

In red in the lower margin to the left: 'The Tumats' rebellion and Chingiz Khan sending Burghul Nuyan to repel that faction and conquering, and he [Burghul Nuyan) being killed in the battlefield'

In red in the lower margin to the right: 'Designed by Basawan, painted by Bhim Gujarati and portraiture of the illustrious Basawan'

The Jami al-Tawarikh or 'History of the World' was originally compiled by Rashid al-Din in 1310 AD and was divided into four sections. The first section provided a description of the Mongol and Turkish tribes focusing on Genghis Khan (r.1206-27 AD) and his ancestors and successors. According to Akbar's chronicler Abu'l Fazl, Akbar commissioned a work entitled Chingiz-nama that was based on this part of the Jami al-Tawarikh. Evidence for the dating comes from a surviving volume of 304 folios in the Gulistan Palace Library in Tehran that bears the date 1596 in its colophon. Other dispersed pages are in the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto (illustrated in B.N. Goswamy and E. Fischer, Wonders of a Golden Age, Zurich, 1987, pp.104-5, no.47), San Diego Museum of Art (illustrated in Indian Miniature Painting from the collection of Edwin Binney 3rd, The Mughal and Deccani Schools, Portland, Oregon, 1979, pp.39 and 42, no.17), the British Museum, the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Freer Gallery of Art (illustrated in M.C. Beach, The Imperial Image: Paintings from the Mughal Court, The Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, 1981, p.100, no.11). Folios from the manuscript in the Gulistan Palace Library, Tehran, have been published in J. Marek and H. Knizkova, The Jenghiz Khan Miniatures from the Court of Akbar the Great, 1963) and M.H. Semsar, Masterpieces of Persian Paintings, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran, 2000, pp.140-153. Further illustrated leaves to the manuscript were sold in these rooms, 26 April 1994, lot 4; 22 April 1980, lots 32 and 33 and 14 October 1980, lots 239 and 240. 

The inscription along the lower edge indicates that the court artist Basawan carried out the design and drawing of faces, and Bhim Gujarati was responsible for the colouring. Abu'l Fazl in his discussion of court painters lists Basawan as one the most important: "Basawan. In back grounding, drawing of features, distribution of colours, portrait painting, and several other branches, he is most excellent, so much so that many critics prefer him to Daswanth" (Beach 1981, p.24). As Beach explains that "of the ninety-eight illustrations in the Tehran volume of that work [Jami al-Tawarikh of 1596], Miskin executed twenty designs, Lal nineteen, and Basawam sixteen."

The present lot demonstrates Basawan's aptitude for portraiture; his rendering of all the faces are sensitively observed showing his awareness and understanding of European art. As Seyller states, "what ultimately sets Basawan apart from his peers is his profound understanding of the human condition and his virtuoso technique" (Beach, Fishcher and Goswamy 2011, p.126). A folio from the Victoria and Albert Akbarnama (ibid. p.127, fig.6), composed by Basawan ten years earlier, shows a similar dynamic composition to the current illustration. Both depict a dramatic battle scene unfolding, a mass of bodies tumbling diagonally across the picture plane. Basawan was a master at creating spatial depth and movement and his compositions were both dramatic and perfectly balanced.

Bhim Gujarati is described as "the first generation of painters at the Mughal atelier, his earliest work being preserved in MS tarikh (timuria), c.1582-5. In joint work, he seems always to have contributed 'colouring' ('amal) only. However, he is responsible for full pictures in MSS 'Iyar (CBL), Babur (BM) and Khamsa (BM)..." (S. Verma, Mughal Painters and their work, Delhi, 1994, p.100). Other illustrations jointly produced by Basawan and Bhim Gujarati are as follows:

1. The birth of Ghazan Khan
Chingiz-nama
Worcester Art Museum, Mass. 1935.12.

2. Chingiz Khan dividing his empire among his sons
Chingiz-nama
Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 48.144.

3. Birth of a Prince
Jami al-Tawarikh
Ex-Collection M. Demotte, Paris

4. Sultan Ghazan Khan entrusts his minister Rashiduddin with the writing of a history of the Mongols
Jami al-Tawarikh
Imperial Library, Tehran

5. Timur with 600 men crossing the Jaihun
Tarikh-i Khandan-i Timuria
Oriental Public Library, Patna, f.16b

In the Gulistan Palace Library, Tehran, there are ninety-eight miniatures, including a further illustrated leaf ascribed to Bhim Gujarati. 

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