Bookcovers from a volume of the Gulshan Album (Rose Garden album)

Pair of bookcovers, decorated with colors and gold on a dark background, and coated with lacquer. The pictoral image on one, referred to as A in this report, is a hunting scene that includes an elephant, bridge and minaret. The second one, to be called B, has a pictoral image with various animals including a dragon. The central image of each is bounded by two borders: the inner border has gold painted flowers on a dark red background; the outer border has calligraphy, birds and floral ornamentation executed in colors and gold on a black background.

The doublures have leather cut filigree with exposed substrates in blue, dark red, orange and green. The central panel also contains leather with relief embossing in two tones of gold, decorated with faunal activity. There is an inset with calligraphy at the top of A’s central panel.

All edges of the interior side are bordered with dark red leather, approximately 1 cm. wide. On what would appear to be the binding edge of both covers, there are thin, black leather strips, approximately 5 cm. wide. Their locations suggest that A is the front cover and B is the back.

Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, ca. 1595-1632
Medium
Painted with colors and gold and lacquered, also leather and possibly mother-of-pearl.
Dimensions
H x W x D (without straps): 42.7 x 26.2 x 1 cm (16 13/16 x 10 5/16 x 3/8 in)
Geography
India
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1999.2a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Lacquer
Type

Book covers

Keywords
dragon, elephant, flower, holy man, hunting, India, lettering, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), ostrich, simurgh, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1739
Mughal Imperial Library, Delhi, India. [1]

From 1739 to late 1800s
Persian Imperial Library, Tehran, Iran. [2]

From ? to 1999
Parnian Kummer, Geneva, Switzerland. [3]

From 1999
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Parnian Kummer, Geneva, Switzerland. [4]

Notes:
[1] These album covers with folios were taken from India to Iran when Delhi was looted by Nadir Shah in 1739. They remained in Iranian hands until the late nineteenth century, when they began to be dispersed. See Curatorial Remark 2 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

[3] Believed to have been the property of Ms. Kummer’s father. From 2000 to 2003 questions were raised regarding provenance and ownership of these pieces. Research is ongoing.

[4] See Acquisition Consideration Form, copy in object file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mme. Parnian Kummer
Persian Imperial Library
Mughal Imperial Library

Description

Pair of bookcovers, decorated with colors and gold on a dark background, and coated with lacquer. The pictoral image on one, referred to as A in this report, is a hunting scene that includes an elephant, bridge and minaret. The second one, to be called B, has a pictoral image with various animals including a dragon. The central image of each is bounded by two borders: the inner border has gold painted flowers on a dark red background; the outer border has calligraphy, birds and floral ornamentation executed in colors and gold on a black background.

The doublures have leather cut filigree with exposed substrates in blue, dark red, orange and green. The central panel also contains leather with relief embossing in two tones of gold, decorated with faunal activity. There is an inset with calligraphy at the top of A's central panel.

All edges of the interior side are bordered with dark red leather, approximately 1 cm. wide. On what would appear to be the binding edge of both covers, there are thin, black leather strips, approximately 5 cm. wide. Their locations suggest that A is the front cover and B is the back.

Published References
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 20A, cat. 20B, pp. 104-6.
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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