Mughal images of the biblical King David was a subject likely inspired by the central section of an engraving by Johann Sadeler I (Netherlands 1550-1601 Venice circa 1590-1600). An example of "King David Playing the Harp with Angels Dancing and Playing Music" is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession no. 53.601.171). Imperial Mughal painters - beginning with the royal workshops of Emperor Akbar - had absorbed the pictorial influence of European art via engravings and oil paintings imported into the Mughal court. Some influences were stylistic in the form of naturalistic shading and detail - however occasionally the influences were in the form of European portraiture and subjects - often biblical - as in the present example.
There are two other known examples of this subject, one ascribed to Manohar (The David Collection, Copenhagen, inventory no. 31/2001) dated circa 1620-30 - set within borders of a Shah Jahan muraqqa' folio. Another version made in Delhi circa 1800 from the James and William Fraser Collection was mounted into later Shah Jahan style borders. Our present example has a somewhat rounder portrait-like face and wispier beard than the two previous examples - as well some differences in the colors and dais placement above the lower landscape. All three examples are set on plain verdigris backgrounds.
Applied within a Later Eighteenth Century album folio with dark blue inner gold-flecked borders with gold inner margins between colored ruled lines. Buff/natural gold-flecked outer borders. Inscribed above in black ink Urdu script "shab e mubarak hadrat auliya alai salam" honoring the Prophet David, on the verdigris ground with another in the outer border at top.
For a similar work, see Sotheby's London, 23 April 1996, lot 8.
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