Young Prince

Artist: Signed by Muhammad Haravi
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, mid-16th century
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
H x W: 34.1 x 24 cm (13 7/16 x 9 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf with painting

illumination, Iran, portrait, prince, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

After the late fifteenth century in Iran, artists not only worked on illustrated manuscripts, but they also composed individual paintings and drawings that were gathered in albums. Among the most popular subject matter for album page compositions was that of elegant, often contemplative, young men and women. Like this meticulously dressed youth by Muhammad Haravi (i.e., from the city of Herat), the figures are idealized and frequently are portrayed with certain props, such as a book, a wine cup, or a flower. 

These images may no longer relate directly to a specific text,  but they can be interpreted as visual evocations of certain Persian poetic conceits, such as youthful beauty, the solace of wine, or yearning for the beloved. The youth's elaborate coat, representing a fine Safavid figural textile, is particularly noteworthy. Decorated with warriors taking both male and female prisoners, the animated design stands in sharp contrast to the calm, meditative expression of the youth. 

Published References
  • Louise W. Mackie. Symbols of Power: Luxury Textiles from Islamic Lands, 7th-21st Century. Cleveland. .
  • Franz Rosenthal. Four Essays on Art and Literature in Islam. The L.A. Mayer Memorial Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology, vol. 2 London. pl. 12.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, Ernst Kuhnel. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols., London and New York, 1938 - 1939. vol. 3: pp. 1884, 2082-84, fig. 675.
  • Muhammad Ali Karimzadeh-Tabrizi. The Lives and Art of Old Painters of Iran. 3 vols., London, 1985-1991. cat. 14, vol. 3: p. 1109.
  • Sheila R. Canby. The Life and Work of the Painter Riza., microfilm. Cambridge, Massachusetts. fig. 23.
  • Edgar Blochet. Musulman Paintings, 12th-17th Centuries. Connoisseur's Library London. pl. 154.
  • Laurence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, Basil Gray. Persian Miniature Painting: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March 1931. Exh. cat. Oxford, January - March 1931. no. 144.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Exhibition of 2500 Years of Persian Art. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 38.
  • B. W. Robinson. Muhammadi and the Khurasani Style. no. 30. pp. 23-24.
  • James Randolph. Freer Gallery Houses Fabulous Art. vol. 7, no. 79 Tokyo and Sydney, July 1956. p. 23, cover.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 15A, p. 47.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 136-137.
  • A.M. Kevorkian. Les Jardins du Desir: Sept Siecles de Peinture Persane. Paris. pp. 190-191.
  • Philipp Walter Schulz. Die Persisch-Islamische Miniaturmalerei: Ein Beitrag zur Kunstgeschichte Irans. 2 vols, Leipzig. p. 202.
  • Sheila R. Canby, Azimuth Editions. The Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi Abbas of Isfahan. London. pp. 220, 232, fig. 25.
  • Jonathan M. Bloom, Sheila Blair. And Diverse are their Hues. p. 281, fig. 191.
  • Encyclopædia Iranica. 14 vols., London and Boston. p. 788, pl. c.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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