Youth and old man

Detached album folio; top: Qur’anic fragment in black nasta’liq script; center: Youth and an old man signed by Aga Riza; below: dated calligraphic panel by Mir Ali Katib; seal of Shah Abbas.
Border: The composition is set in gold and lapis illuminated panel with a poem from Nizami’s Sharafnama, mounted on paperboard with floral motifs.

Maker(s)
Artist: Riza Abbasi (ca. 1565-1635)
Calligrapher: Mir Ali al-Katib (ca. 1360-1420)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, 1590s
Medium
Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W (image): 46.1 x 30.5 cm (18 1/8 x 12 in)
Geography
Iran, Isfahan
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1986.292
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Album, Painting
Type

Detached Album folio

Keywords
elder, Henri Vever collection, Iran, man, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance, youth
Provenance

From at least 1911
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), Paris, from at least 1911 [1]

To 1942
Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France, to 1942 [2]

From 1942 to 1986
Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France [3]

From 1986
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France [4]

Notes:

[1] The object is documented as having appeared in the collection of Kevorkian by at least November 7, 1911. See Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 408.

[2] See Glenn D. Lowry et al., An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection (Washington, DC: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), pp. 312-314, no. 365.

[3] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Henri Vever 1854-1942
Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962
Francois Mautin French, born 1907

Description

Detached album folio; top: Qur'anic fragment in black nasta'liq script; center: Youth and an old man signed by Aga Riza; below: dated calligraphic panel by Mir Ali Katib; seal of Shah Abbas.
Border: The composition is set in gold and lapis illuminated panel with a poem from Nizami's Sharafnama, mounted on paperboard with floral motifs.

Inscription(s)

"Written by the sinful slave of God, Mir-Ali al-Katib in the months of the year [A.H.] 937 [A.D. 1530-31]."

Label

The delicate, almost ethereal composition is one of Riza Abbasi's most lyrical works. Executed in gold ink on rose-colored paper, the unusual drawing captures the subtle interplay between the sensuous, enticing youth and the restrained yet anticipating elderly man.

Above and below the drawing, unrelated fragments of text by the calligrapher, Mir Ali have been added primarily for aesthetic reasons. The illuminated, inscribed border, however, may have been chosen for its content. Taken from the Sharafnama (Book of honor) by Nizami (died 1209), the verses describe a dispute on the art of drawing between the people of Rum (present-day West Asia) and China.

Published References
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Publication title unknown. vol. 5: p. 1890.
  • Ivan Stchoukine. Les Peintures des Manuscrits de Shah Abbas Ier à la fin des Safavis. Institut français d'archéologie de Beyrouth Paris. cat. 102.
  • Armenag Sakisian. La Miniature Persane du XIIe au XVIIe siecle: Ouvrage accompagne de la reproduction de 193 miniatures dont deux en couleurs. Paris and Brussels. fig. 163,pl. XCI.
  • The Hague. Catalogus tentoonstelling van islamische kunst. cat. 24, p. 22.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Susan Nemanzee. A Jeweler's Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 66, pp. 27, 196-197, fig. 13.
  • Thomas W. Lentz. Pictures for the Islamic Book: Persian and Indian Painting in the Vever Collection. vol. 1, no. 4 New York, Fall 1988. p. 31, fig. 13.
  • Glenn D. Lowry. Persian Miniatures from the Vever Collection. vol. 18, no. 9 Hong Kong, Spring 1989. p. 53.
  • , Massumeh Farhad, J.M. Rogers, Marianna Shreve Simpson. Persian Masters: Five Centures of Paintings. Bombay. p. 80, fig. 11.
  • Eric Schroeder. Persian Miniatures in the Fogg Museum of Art. Cambridge, Massachusetts. pp. 122, 127-28.
  • Henry Corbin, Paul Pelliot, Eustache de Lorey. Les Arts de l'Iran, l'ancienne Perse, et Bagdad. Paris. cat. 79, p. 166.
  • Glenn D. Lowry, Milo Cleveland Beach, Elisabeth West FitzHugh, Susan Nemanzee, Janet Snyder. An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection. Washington and Seattle. cat. 365, pp. 312-314.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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