"Firdausi's Parable of the Ship of Shi'ism", Folio 18v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Mirza 'Ali (active ca. 1525–75)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 12 1/2 in. (31.7 cm)
W. 8 15/16 in. (22.7 cm)
Page: H. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
W.12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
In the introduction to the Shahnama, God launched seventy ships, bearing adherents to the religions of mankind, into a stormy sea. Clearly depicted on the central ship are the Prophet and his son‑in‑law and successor 'Ali sitting beneath the red canopy, while 'Ali’s sons, Hasan and Husain, stand nearby. Details such as the inlaid stars and figures with very small elliptical pupils are characteristic of works attributed to Mirza 'Ali, the son of the master painter Sultan Muhammad.
Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70; gifted to MMA)
Cambridge, MA. Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums. "Wonders of the Age: Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting," March 29, 1980–May 18, 1980.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 84-87, ill. pp. 85-87, folio 18v (color; b/w).
Swietochowski, Marie, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Notable Acquisitions 1965–1975 (1975). p. 133, ill. (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Cary, Sheila R. Canby, and Norah M. Titley. "Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501–1576." In Wonders of the Age. Cambridge, MA: Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums, 1979. no. 7, pp. 48-49, ill. p. 49 (b/w).
Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 6 (b/w).
Bahari, Ebadollah, and Annemarie Schimmel. Bihzad, Master of Persian Painting. London, New York: I.B.Tauris Publishers, 1996. See folios 18v and 29v.
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 26, ill. (color), folio 18v.
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. 138A, pp. 7, 202-208, ill. p. 204 (color).
Rüstem, Ünver. "The Afterlife of a Royal Gift: The Ottoman Inserts of the Shahnama-i Shahi." Muqarnas vol. 29 (2012). p. 278, 279, 296, ill. figs. 2, 3, (color).
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 68, 324, 328, 330, ill. p. 68 (color), full-page ill. p. 68; detail p. 324,328, 330.