Four portraits from the St. Petersburg Album

Detached album folio; text: Persian in black nasta’liq script; obverse: calligraphic panel, couplets of poem, signed by Imad al-Hasani; reverse: Four portraits: Awrangzeb (above right), Shah Jahan (above left), unidentified nobleman (below right) and Dara Shikoh (below left).
Border: The calligraphy panel is set in gold rulings surrounded by an inner frame of pink floral scroll mounted on black-colored paperboard; the painting is set in a blue and gold floral scroll, surrounded by a red floral scroll on a border of naturalistic floral sprays, birds, and insects, mounted on a cream-colored paperboard.

View right to left

Maker(s)
Calligrapher: Imad al-Hasani (died 1615)
Borders: Muhammad Sadiq
Historical period(s)
Mughal dynasty, ca. 1650-1660; borders mid-18th century
Movement
Mughal Court
School
Mughal School
Medium
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 47.3 x 32.3 cm (18 5/8 x 12 11/16 in)
Geography
India
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Henri Vever collection
Accession Number
S1986.421
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Album, Painting
Type

Detached album folio

Keywords
bird, flower, Henri Vever collection, India, Mughal dynasty (1526 - 1858), portrait, WWII-era provenance
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. 411.

[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. 294-295, no. 345.

[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; text: Persian in black nasta'liq script; obverse: calligraphic panel, couplets of poem, signed by Imad al-Hasani; reverse: Four portraits: Awrangzeb (above right), Shah Jahan (above left), unidentified nobleman (below right) and Dara Shikoh (below left).
Border: The calligraphy panel is set in gold rulings surrounded by an inner frame of pink floral scroll mounted on black-colored paperboard; the painting is set in a blue and gold floral scroll, surrounded by a red floral scroll on a border of naturalistic floral sprays, birds, and insects, mounted on a cream-colored paperboard.

Inscription(s)

The calligraphy panel, "Poor Imad al-Hasani, may God forgive him."
The painting, left side, "A portrait of this suppliant at the divine court. Written by Muhammad Dara-Shikoh."

Label

The four portraits included here represent the fifth emperor Shahjahan (reigned 1628-58; upper left), and his sons Emperor Aurangzeb (reigned 1658-1707; upper right) and Dara Shikoh (reigned 1615-59), who is identified and dated by the inscription (lower left). The man on the lower right is not identified.

The last years of Shahjahan's reign were marked by bitter dynastic struggles among his sons for succession to the throne. After annihilating his brothers and imprisoning his father, Aurangzeb prevailed. An austere administrator and a religious and cultural puritan who had little interest in the art that had so pleased his father, Aurangzeb almost completely abandoned the tradition of imperial patronage. His reign is generally regarded as the beginning of the decline of the Mughal empire.

The so-called St. Petersburg Album, named after the Russian city where the majority of the album is kept today, was assembled in Iran around 1750. In the eighteenth century, it was set in elaborately designed borders, replete with naturalistic floral sprays, birds, and insects, which in turn may have been inspired by earlier Mughal models. Several of these borders are signed by the painter Muhammad Hadi. The overall visual effect of these folios, even if somewhat incongruous, is one of heightened opulence and sumptuousness.

Published References
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 22I, pp. 138-9.
  • 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. 345, pp. 294-295.
  • Rene Grousset. The Civilizations of the East. 4 vols., New York and London, 1931-1934. p. 325, fig. 204.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum