78
78
A nobleman on a terrace, style of Mihr Chand, India, Lucknow, circa 1780 
Estimate
15,00018,000
JUMP TO LOT
78
A nobleman on a terrace, style of Mihr Chand, India, Lucknow, circa 1780 
Estimate
15,00018,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Arts of the Islamic World

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A nobleman on a terrace, style of Mihr Chand, India, Lucknow, circa 1780 
gouache heightened with gold on paper, border of floral motifs on blue and white ground, numbered 28 in upper right border, reverse with a panel of poetry in nasta'liq calligraphy signed by Muhammad 'Ali, dated 1195 AH/1780 AD, set in similar borders
painting: 17.5 by 12.8cm.
calligraphy panel: 21.8 by 11cm.
leaf: 39.7 by 28.4cm.
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Provenance

From one of the albums made for Col. Antoine Polier in Lucknow in the late eigthteenth century. The date on the calligraphy on the reverse of the present folio gives us a terminus ante quem of 1780.

Catalogue Note

This folio possess the distinctive broad floral borders associated with other Polier album pages. The portrait of the nobleman is executed in a style associated with Mihr Chand, who was employed by Polier in his atelier in the 1770s and early 1780s. The calligraphy on the verso is signed by Muhammad 'Ali, who penned several of the calligraphic panels associated with Polier Album pages, see, for example, Sotheby's, London, 8 October 2014, lots 270 and 272. A few scribes with the name Muhammad ‘Ali are recorded. Ghulam Muhammad Dihlavi records a Hafiz Muhammad ‘Ali, who was an old Royal [Mughal] scribe and was honoured to be one of the masters to teach Prince Javan Bakht son of Shah ‘Alam. He wrote in nasta’liq in ‘Abd al-Rashid Daylami style and also wrote in naskh (M. Hidayat Husain (ed.), The tadhkira-i-khushnavisan of Mawlana Ghulam Muhammad Dihlavi, Calcutta, 1910, p.67). Bayani records a Muhammad ‘Ali Hafiz, quotes colophons and concludes that Muhammad ‘Ali, Muhammad ‘Ali Hafiz and Muhammad ‘Ali son of Zarrin Qalam are the same person. He records one work by Muhammad ‘Ali dated 1196 AH/1781-2 AD and one by Hafiz Muhammad ‘Ali son of Zarrin Qalam dated 1202 AH/1787-88 AD (Mehdi Bayani, ahval va athar-e khosh-nevisan, vol.3, Tehran, 1348, pp.788-9).

Antoine Louis Henri Polier was born in Lausanne in Switzerland in 1741 and began his career as a surveyor in the East India Company in 1758. By 1762 Polier had become Chief Engineer of the Bengal Army in Calcutta and Chief Architect for the Kingdom of Oudh, working within the Court of Nawab Shuja al-Daula. During his time in India, Polier collected a number of Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts and miniatures. Polier commissioned works, establishing a studio in Faizabad with Mihr Chand as the chief artist, and assembled at least twelve albums of paintings and calligraphy. For further discussion of Polier and his albums see Roy in Markel and with Gude, India's Fabled City, The Art of Courtly Lucknow, Los Angeles, 2011, pp.176-181 (where further examples are illustrated); Harris, 'Archibald Swinton: a new source of albums of Indian miniatures in William Beckford’s collection',The Burlington Magazine, Vol. CXLIII, Number 1179, June 2001, pp.360-6; Hickman & Enderlein: Indische Albumblatte, Leipzig 1979, cat nos.1,11, 21, 39, 43 and 51). Other Polier leaves were sold in these rooms 6 October 2010, lots 80 and 81; 15 June, 2010, lot 5; 8 October 2014, lots 270-272. For a series of Polier Album portraits comparable to the present example see Weber, Portrats und Historisches Darstellungen in der Miniaturensammlung des Museums fur Indisches Kunst, Berlin, Berlin, 1982, pp.364-446.

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