A Prince on Horseback Offering Wine to a Youth in a Tree House from the Gulshan Album

Artist: Attributed to Madhava (marginal figures)
Calligrapher: Mir Ali (died 1556)
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, Reign of Jahangir, ca. 1600, calligraphy from ca. 1540
Mughal Court
Mughal School
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W (overall): 42.5 x 26.6 cm (16 3/4 x 10 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 01: Body Image: Arts of the Indian Subcontinent
Album, Painting

Album leaf with painting

horse, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), nasta'liq script, prince, Reign of Jahangir (1605 - 1627), tree
Provenance research underway.

This folio's delicately realized border depicts artisans involved in manuscript production. Proceeding counterclockwise from the top right, we see burnishing (smoothing and polishing) of paper, the stamping of designs into a leather cover, the sizing of the folios, a woodworker sawing a bookstand, the preparation of gold leaf and a calligrapher at work. The naturalistic modeling indicates that the border artist adopted the figural imagery from the European prints that circulated in the imperial court.

The sample of calligraphy in the center of this folio was written by Mir Ali, a famous 16th-century artist who worked in Herat and Bukhara. The verses are from the Munajat of Abu Ismail Abdallah Ansari:

The pir of Herat says: Eat no one's food; withhold food from on one. Fear not poverty. Recognize God as the [ultimate] giver. Eat what God gives, for it never decreases. Realize that your own little is better than others' much. [written by] the sinful slave Mir-Ali al Sultani.

Published References
  • Susan Stronge. Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. The Emperor's Choice., reprint. New York. pl. 34, fig.17.
  • Sheila Blair. Islamic Calligraphy. Edinburgh. pl. 2.3.
  • Johannes Pedersen. The Arabic Book. Modern Classics in Near Eastern Studies Princeton. cover, figs.28-34.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. cat. 16b, pp. 10, 156-161.
  • , with the assistance of Barbara Rivolta. Islamic Calligraphy. vol. 50, no. 1 New York, Summer 1992. pp. 20, 76, fig. 24.
  • Annemarie Schimmel. Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. Hagop Kevorkian Series on Near Eastern Art and Civilization New York, 1983 - 1984. pp. 20, 76, fig. 24.
  • James David. Islamic Masterpieces of the Chester Beatty Library. Exh. cat. London. pp. 44-45.
  • John Guy, Jorrit Britschgi. Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100-1900. New York. 51, 16.
  • Marianna Shreve Simpson. L'Art Islamique: Asiae, Iran, Afgahanistan, Asia Centrale et Inde. La Grammaire des Styles Paris, 1956-1958. pp. 59-60.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 63, pp. 106-107.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 20D, p. 108.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 52, pp. 144-145.
  • Sheila Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800. Yale University Press Pelican History of Art London. p. 295, fig. 371.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Worlds within Worlds: Imperial Paintings from India and Iran
Google Cultural Institute
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