Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Muhammad Zaman, Persian
The Return from the Flight into Egypt
Paintings with Calligraphy
Work Type
painting with calligraphy
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Safavid period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Ink, color and gold on paper
21.6 x 14.5 cm (8 1/2 x 5 11/16 in.)
frame: 48.6 x 38.4 x 2.5 cm (19 1/8 x 15 1/8 x 1 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: upper and lower borders, ink on paper, Persian, in artist's hand
Fredrik Robert Martin, Florence, (by 1912). John Goelet, New York and London, (by 1966), gift; to the Fogg Museum, 1966.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of John Goelet
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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This painting is based on an engraving made by the Flemish artist Vosterman, after Rubens' work 'The Return from the Flight into Egypt'. It shows Mary, Joseph, and child Jesus returning to their homeland after their flight to Egypt. Two lines of Persian inscriptions written in nastaliq script can be seen on the top and bottom of the page. The inscription indicates that Muhammad Zaman finished it in August-September of 1689 in the capital city of Isfahan and it is dedicated to Isa (Jesus). Jesus is considered a great prophet in Islam and it is likely that the painting was made for a Christian patron, perhaps an Armenian in Julfa. The painting is done on paper and displays Muhammad Zaman's attempts at creating modeling, three-dimensionality, and perspective. The artist is known to have worked from European prints available in Iran at that time.
Publication History

F.R. Martin, The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey, from the 8th to the 18th century, B. Quaritch (London, England, 1912), vol. II, pl. 173 (top)

Basil Gray, Persian Painting (1961), p. 170

Anthony Welch, Shah 'Abbas and the Arts of Isfahan, exh. cat., Asia Society Museum (New York, NY, 1973), p. 108, fig. 72

"The Life of Muhammad Zaman: a Reconsideration", Iran (1979), vol. 17, pp. 65-70, pp. 65-70

Marianna Shreve Simpson, Arab and Persian Painting in the Fogg Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1980), pp. 53, 104-105, 107, no. 40, ill.

40 Years On... Donations by John Goelet: Sculpture, Paintings and Drawings, Miniatures and Calligraphy, Tankas and Mandala, M. T. Train and Scala Books (New York, NY, 2000), p.176, fig. 241

Amy Landau, ed., Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts, exh. cat., The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, 2015), p. 168, fig. 6.1

Shuji Takashina, The Lectures of the 47th Annual Seminar on Arts, Kajima Foundation of Art (Tokyo, 2019), fig. 13

Exhibition History

The Enlightened Eye: Gifts from John Goelet, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/12/2000 - 05/07/2000

Traces of the Poet, Artist, and Patron in the Age of Islamic Empires, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 11/08/2015 - 01/31/2016; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, 02/26/2016 - 05/08/2016

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