"Rustam Avenges His Own Impending Death", Folio 472r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Bashdan Qara (active ca. 1525–35)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 6 in. (15.2 cm)
W. 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)
Page: H. 18 11/16 in. (47.5 cm)
W. 12 5/8 in. (32.1 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
Rustam’s wicked half‑brother Shaghad conceived a plan to kill him by preparing a hunting ground with pits filled with upright spears. When Rustam went hunting near these traps, he fell into a pit and was impaled. Realizing that Shaghad, watching from behind a tree, had devised the plot, Rustam sent an arrow through the tree and killed Shaghad, shortly before he himself died. Although the figures are devoid of emotion, the barren setting accentuates the starkness and finality of the scene.
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)
Mohl, Jules, ed. Le Livre des Rois. Vol. I. Paris, 1876. pp. 573-578.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 195.
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. 210 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 230, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. New York, 2014. pp. 272, 331, ill. fol. 472r, full-page color ill. p. 272; detail p. 331.