kamtarin Muhammad Zaman; majlis tarikh peri zuleykha
The present painting is an important work by Muhammad Zaman 'the third' (see Karimzadeh-Tabrizi, Lives and Art of Old Painters of Iran, London, 1990, vol.II, no.1038, pp.816-820), who was born in 1749 and who died in 1794. He appears to have served at the court of Lutf 'Ali Khan Zand (r.1789-94) and known to have painted in several media including lacquer, watercolour and oil. An oil painting by the same artist depicting Khosrow and Shirin, sold at Drouot, Paris, 12 December 1975 (also illustrated in Karimzadeh-Tabrizi, ibid, p.999, pl.85), shows that Muhammad Zaman had a distinctive style with certain characteristics common to both works. The faces of the figures are very similar, those of Zuleykha and Shirin being particularly close, and his depiction of costumes and textiles, right down to the frogged coats work by Yusuf and Zuleykha in the present painting and by Khosrow in the Paris work, show notable attention to texture and detail.
The same stylised facial shapes and languid poses of the seated figures and attention paid to the minutiae of the floral patterning of the costume can further be compared to another painting by the artist, sold in these rooms, 9 April 2014, lot 90 (attributed to Muhammad Zaman at the point of sale, but conservation later revealing the signature of the artist and the date 1196 AH (1782 AD). Other artists of the late eighteenth century also shared some of the same stylistic traits, particularly Muhammad Sadiq (see related examples to the present painting by this artist in S.J. Falk, Qajar Paintings, London, 1972, nos.5, 6 and 7).
Zaman was known to imitate European painting styles and perspective, as illustrated in the landscape background of this work. Paintings of this shape were common in the royal residences of the Zand period; canvases were cut to fit a niche of an interior wall, hence the pointed apex of this portrait. For a further work by Muhammad Zaman III - a beturbaned nobleman - see L.S. Diba and M. Ekhtiar, Royal Persian Paintings, New York, 1998, pp.191-1, no.44).
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