Linear Graces ... and Disgraces: Part II, Drawings from the Courts of Persia, Turkey, and India, 15th-19th Centuries

, Harvard University Art Museums
  • The Battle of Samugarh

    The Battle of Samugarh

  • Prince Baysunghur (1399-1433) Slays a Wolf

    Prince Baysunghur (1399-1433) Slays a Wolf

  • A Beggar Kisses the Foot of the Prince’s Horse

    A Beggar Kisses the Foot of the Prince’s Horse

    In the center of this drawing, a young prince rides a beautiful stallion. The youth watches and gestures toward a barefoot man who kneels to kiss the foot of the stallion. An emaciated nag stands behind the kneeling man. This nuanced line drawing conveys the psychological characteristics of the different personages of the prince and the poor man.

  • Soldiers Carousing (recto); Sketches of Figures and Animals (verso)

    Soldiers Carousing (recto); Sketches of Figures and Animals (verso)

    On the recto side of the page is a drawing containing sketches of soldiers eating, conversing, drinking, and fighting with each other. On the verso side of the page are various sketches of figures, including two soldiers eating, elephants and their riders, and lions. Rajput Style, Kota School.

  • Duck in Foliage

    Duck in Foliage

    The slightly tinted ink drawing on this album folio depicts a duck next to a flower branch. One of the branches goes above the duck's head and the other through its wings. The head and shoulders are drawn with a thick stroke. This type of tinted ink drawings represents the saz style which is generally distinguished by three-dimensional serrated leaves, intertwining branches and mythical or real creatures. The style was developed at the Ottoman imperial studio in the first half of the 16th century under the leadership of the émigré Persian artist Shahquli. The saz style permeated diverse media including ceramics, paintings, and textiles and found popularity throughout the 16th century in the Ottoman realm.

  • Portrait of Sultan Husayn Mirza, folio from an album

    Portrait of Sultan Husayn Mirza, folio from an album

  • Warriors on Horseback, folio from an album

    Warriors on Horseback, folio from an album

  • Young Durjan Sal Slays a Lion

    Young Durjan Sal Slays a Lion

    This drawing depicts a dense jungle, in which young Durjan Sal of Kota (r. 1723-1756) on the left, fires an arrow into the side of a large male lion. In the middle of a page, another large lion approaches. Both animals show their teeth and red tongues. Their large size emphasizes Durjan Sal’s hunting skills, which he was famous for. Rajput Style.

  • Pierced Window Screen (Jali)

    Pierced Window Screen (Jali)

  • Sprig of Rose Blossoms

    Sprig of Rose Blossoms

    On this folio there is a drawing that depicts a spray of roses—one full blossom and two buds. Rose blossoms were an enduringly popular theme in Iranian art from the late Safavid through Qajar periods. The botanical details and enhanced shading in this drawing recall floral renderings in European still-life paintings. This rose drawing is composed of two pieces of paper pasted together, and it had been backed with a third piece of paper (now removed, see Acc.# 728.1983.2).

  • Fort of Gagraun

    Fort of Gagraun

  • A Lady of Fashion

    A Lady of Fashion

  • A Row of Sadhus

    A Row of Sadhus

  • Demons Before Kamsa, preparatory drawing for the Kota Bhagavata Purana

    Demons Before Kamsa, preparatory drawing for the Kota Bhagavata Purana

    This preparatory drawing features two horned demons conversing with the tyrannical king, Kamsa. In the background, is a charbagh, a quadrilateral garden divided walkways or water channels, as seen here, into four smaller parts. The channels run from a main fountain at the center. Rajput Style, Kota School.

  • Woman Playing a Zither (drawing, recto) after a European source; calligraphy (verso) by an unknown artist

    Woman Playing a Zither (drawing, recto) after a European source; calligraphy (verso) by an unknown artist

    The recto of this album folio depicts a woman seated outdoors on an elaborately decorated chair, as she sings and plays the zither. Clad in European garments, her facial features and jewelry are clearly Indian, as is the pillow on which she rests her foot. The chair is ornamented with figures in European garb, some of which suggest Christian themes. A bushy-tailed animal, perhaps a cat, crouches just behind the chair. The landscape features architecture, rocky outcroppings, and trees of quite different scale. The top band and right side of the drawing are made on a different piece of paper. The verso of this folio holds a calligraphic composition consisting of two couplets of Persian poetry written in nasta’liq script in diagonal format.

  • Lion Tamer

    Lion Tamer

  • Dragon in Foliage (drawing, recto); calligraphy, (verso)

    Dragon in Foliage (drawing, recto); calligraphy, (verso)

    This album folio has on its recto side a slightly tinted black-ink drawing of a dragon charging forward through dense foliage. It is an accomplished example of the so-called Ottoman saz style, distinguished by three-dimensional serrated leaves, intertwining branches, and mythical creatures. The extraordinary quality of the draftsmanship on this drawing is especially visible in details such as the claw of the dragon snapping a branch into two. The saz style was developed at the Ottoman imperial studio in the first half of the 16th century especially under the leadership of the émigré Persian artist Shahquli, who worked from 1526 to 1556 at the Ottoman court. The saz style permeated diverse media including ceramics, paintings, and textiles. The drawing has two inscriptions in nastaliq script and appears to be by the same hand: one near the foreleg of the dragon providing the name of an artist (Mir Sayyid Muhammad Naqqash); the other at the top between two branches (made by the humble servant at the court of heavenly resort of his Excellency, Khan Ahmad al-Husayni). The latter one is written upside down and the second line is placed above the first. In the same inscription the lower loop of letter lam in the word ‘amel’ crosses over the ruling lines around the drawing, which suggests the inscription is not contemporary with the drawing itself but was added after the drawing was mounted as an album page. The verso side of the album folio has an illuminated calligraphy, a poem dedicated to the famous Persian poet Jami (d. 1492) copied by the scribe Ali al-Katib.

  • A Hunt with Trained Cheetahs

    A Hunt with Trained Cheetahs

    The drawing seems to depict a continuous narrative that features a trained cheetah pursuing a herd of gazelle. On the left the feline is shown sitting and then leaping off a carriage, followed by chasing and killing a gazelle. The top left corner shows two male figures that appear to be in conversation. Rajput style, Kota school.

  • Master and Pupil (perhaps Prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, with his tutor)

    Master and Pupil (perhaps Prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, with his tutor)

    With sensitive, calligraphic lines, this drawing depicts an elegantly dressed youth kneeling with uplifted face before his much larger master, who is holding open a book with faintly visible, but illegible script. Fine and subtle strokes delineate the master's beard and fur collar and the youth's aigrette and curling hair. Folds of drapery at the hem of their robes and edges of their shawls break into lively rhythms.

  • Landscape with Water Mill

    Landscape with Water Mill

  • Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with  Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)

    Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)

    The drawing depicts the Rajput nobleman and Mughal courtier Anup Rai, being attacked by a lion during a royal hunt. He is shown attempting to push the lion’s face away from his. Anup Rai was known as “Singh Dalan” (lion crusher), because he risked his life and intercepted a lion that was about to attack the Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627). The event took place on January 6, 1611. Jahangir is shown carrying his matchlock gun by the barrel and is about to strike the lion’s head with the butt of his gun. Prince Khurram, who later becomes the emperor Shah Jahan, raises a sword to deliver a blow to the lion’s back. .

  • A Panoply of Priests

    A Panoply of Priests

  • A Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner Holding a Sword

    A Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner Holding a Sword

    The drawing depicts Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner (r. 1631-1669) in profile. With both hands, he holds the hilt of a firangi, a type of Indian longsword. Raja Karan Singh wears a large red and green turban, pearl and gem-studded jewelry, and a waist sash (patka) decorated with flowers. Tucked into the waist sash is a punch-dagger (katar). The image has been pricked for transfer. Rajput style, Bikaner school.

  • Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell

    Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell

  • Virgin and Child with Two Angels

    Virgin and Child with Two Angels

    In the foreground of the painting is a large Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child at the bank of a river. The Christ Child clutches onto a book with his left hand, while his right hand plays with an emerald from the Virgin’s necklace. Floating about them, against a marbled sky, are two angels. Bedecked with pearls and jewels, the one on the left carries a tray, while the one on the right carries a gold, bejeweled crown. On the left is a domed complex that resembles a Muslim mausoleum. Towards the bottom left is a large group of people; some of them are robed and turbaned, while others simply wear loin cloths and have shaved heads. One turbaned and robed figure is seated on a mat surrounded by several standards, including the trishul, the Hindu god Shiva’s trident, suggesting that some of the figures may be Shaivite ascetics. The robed and bearded figures, especially those with fur-trimmed hats, are ascetics that belong to Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam. The thick, outer margin is decorated with a variety of colorful flowering plants, including roses, irises, tulips, and daffodils. The inner border framing the painting is blue with gold scrolling flowers and leaves. The painting is mostly black ink on cream paper that has been pasted into the decorative borders.

  • Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)

    Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)

    On the recto side of this page is a large caparisoned elephant approaching a palace with its trunk raised up, saluting a figure on the palace’s balcony. Due to the missing portion of this image, it is difficult to determine the identity of the royal figure, although it has been suggested it is Prince Madho Singh. Mounted on the elephant is a driver carrying an elephant goad. The large elephant leads a group of smaller elephants who are also accompanied by drivers. On the right of the large elephant is a calf. An attendant on foot sprays water at the large elephant from a hose. On the verso side of this page, in the upper right hand corner is a fragmented drawing of Matsya, the Hindu god Vishnu’s first and fish avatar. The drawing has been pricked to prepare for pounce transfer, which involves forcing powder such as chalk and charcoal through the holes onto a clean surface to copy the image. Rajput Style, Kota School.

  • La Toilette

    La Toilette

  • The Battle of Samugarh
  • Prince Baysunghur (1399-1433) Slays a Wolf
  • A Beggar Kisses the Foot of the Prince’s Horse
  • Soldiers Carousing (recto); Sketches of Figures and Animals (verso)
  • Duck in Foliage
  • Portrait of Sultan Husayn Mirza, folio from an album
  • Warriors on Horseback, folio from an album
  • Young Durjan Sal Slays a Lion
  • Pierced Window Screen (Jali)
  • Sprig of Rose Blossoms
  • Fort of Gagraun
  • A Lady of Fashion
  • A Row of Sadhus
  • Demons Before Kamsa, preparatory drawing for the Kota Bhagavata Purana
  • Woman Playing a Zither (drawing, recto) after a European source; calligraphy (verso) by an unknown artist
  • Lion Tamer
  • Dragon in Foliage (drawing, recto); calligraphy, (verso)
  • A Hunt with Trained Cheetahs
  • Master and Pupil (perhaps Prince Salim, later Emperor Jahangir, with his tutor)
  • Landscape with Water Mill
  • Courtier Raja Anup Rai Intercepting a Lion Attack, with  Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Prince Khurram, drawing (verso); Calligraphy (recto)
  • A Panoply of Priests
  • A Portrait of Raja Karan Singh of Bikaner Holding a Sword
  • Pen Box with Three Reed Pens and Inkwell
  • Virgin and Child with Two Angels
  • Elephants Approaching a Palace (recto, fragment); Pricked drawing of Matsya, Visnhu’s Fish Avatar (verso, fragment)
  • La Toilette
Harvard University Art Museums