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"A Discussion between a Mullah and an Old Man", from the Davis Album

Painting by Muhammad Zaman (active 1649–1700)
Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
dated 1664–65
Iran, Isfahan
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Overall: Ht. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm) W. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm) Mat: Ht. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm) W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
Accession Number:
Not on view
According to new research this painting by the late Safavid artist Muhammad Zaman depicts a comet streaking across the sky while two scholars and their Indian attendants confer by candlelight. Signed and dated 'the year 7', this work may have been executed in the seventh regnal year of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707) and may record the first of two comets sighted in the northern hemisphere in December 1664 and April 1665. Perhaps Muhammad Zaman produced this image in India, or perhaps he painted it in Iran and reflected the eclectic taste his patron, Shah 'Abbas II, which combined European and Mughal Indian elements.
Signature: Signed by Muhammad Zaman (active 1649–1700)

Inscription: Signature in Persian in nasta‘liq script at lower right:
رقم کمینه غلام محمد زمان
The humble slave Muhammad Zaman drew it

At lower left:
فی سنه 7
In the year 7 [A.D. 1664–65]
Theodore M. Davis, New York (by 1914–d. 1915; bequeathed to MMA)
Landau, Amy S. "Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts." In Pearls on a String. Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 2015. p. 247.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 190, pp. 5, 271-272, ill. p. 271 (color).

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