recto Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.16
Title
Old Man with Cane in Rocky Landscape (drawing, recto; calligraphy, verso), folio from an album
Classification
Albums
Work Type
album folio
Date
late 16th century
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Period
Safavid period
Culture
Persian
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/149254
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
31.5 x 20.2 cm (12 3/8 x 7 15/16 in.)
Provenance
Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1992-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.16
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Set between lines of Persian poetry in black nasta? liq, the drawing on the recto of this album folio is framed by multiple rulings and a stenciled margin of exuberant lotus palmettes, rosettes, and curled leaves drawn in gold, the spaces between them tinted with a fine spray of crimson pigment. The drawing itself, executed in black ink using line and wash, depicts an elderly man traversing a landscape of rocky outcroppings, scattered boulders, and plants. Hunched forward, he uses a cane to prop himself up and navigate the uneven terrain. The draftsmanship is accomplished overall, but the rendering of the old man’s expressive facial features and the detail of his ear pressed under the weight of a fat turban are especially fine.
An inscription at the bottom reads, ?amal-i kamina Riza-yi ?Abbasi (work of/done by the humble Riza ?Abbasi). Because the vast majority of Riza’s signatures begin with raqm or raqam (design) or mashaqahu (drew it), this inscription is likely to be an attribution. Moreover, the manner in which it is written differs from authentic specimens of Riza’s handwriting. While certain details of the drawing might mimic Riza’s work, it is not by him, nor does it directly copy one of his known studies.
The verso of the album folio features a calligraphic specimen mounted within a blue border decorated with gold palmettes, rosettes, and leaves. The calligraphy, copied in black nasta? liq on brown paper, consists of two couplets of Persian poetry and is signed by Khalil Allah. A line of minute script between the couplets notes that the “writing occurred” (ta?rir yaft) in the “abode of the sultanate Herat” (bi-dar al-sul?ana Harat).

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
121

Old Man with a Cane in a Rocky Landscape
Folio from an album
Recto: drawing and calligraphy
Verso: calligraphy
Iran, Safavid period, late 16th century
Ink on paper
Folio: 31.5 × 20.2 cm (12 3/8 × 7 15/16 in.)
2002.50.16

Set between lines of Persian poetry in black nastaʿlīq, the drawing on the recto of this album folio is framed by multiple rulings and a stenciled margin of exuberant lotus palmettes, rosettes, and curled leaves drawn in gold, the spaces between them tinted with a fine spray of crimson pigment. The drawing itself, executed in black ink using line and wash, depicts an elderly man traversing a landscape of rocky outcroppings, scattered boulders, and plants. Hunched forward, he uses a cane to prop himself up and navigate the uneven terrain. The draftsmanship is accomplished overall, but the rendering of the old man’s expressive facial features and the detail of his ear pressed under the weight of a fat turban are especially fine.

An inscription at the bottom reads, ʿamal-i kamīna Riżā-yi ʿAbbāsī (work of/done by the humble Riza ʿAbbasi). Because the vast majority of Riza’s signatures begin with raqm or raqam (design) or mashaqahu (drew it), this inscription is likely to be an attribution. Moreover, the manner in which it is written differs from authentic specimens of Riza’s handwriting. While certain details of the drawing might mimic Riza’s work, it is not by him, or does it directly copy one of his known studies.

The intent of the attribution is difficult to judge: it could be an approving assertion that this work is equivalent in quality to works by Riza or, alternatively, a knowingly false claim of Riza’s direct authorship. The verso of the album folio features a calligraphic specimen mounted within a blue border decorated with gold palmettes, rosettes, and leaves. The calligraphy, copied in black nastaʿ līq on brown paper, consists of two couplets of Persian poetry and is signed by Khalil Allah. A line of minute script between the couplets notes that the “writing occurred” (taḥrīr yāft) in the “abode of the sultanate Herat” (bi-dār al-sulṭāna Harāt).

David J. Roxburgh

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 255-256, cat. 121, ill.

Exhibition History

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu