"Ceasar Captive Before Shapur II", Folio 543r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Aqa Mirak (active ca. 1525–60)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 8 5/8 x W. 8 7/16 in. (H. 21.9 x W. 21.4 cm)
Entire Page: H. 18 5/8 x W. 12 1/2 in. (H. 47.3 x W. 31.8 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
Shah Shapur went to Rum disguised as a merchant, but was recognized at Caesar’s court and thrown into prison. Caesar then invaded Iran, causing havoc. A sympathetic young man helped Shapur to escape to Iran, where he gathered an army to take revenge. He captured Caesar but spared his life, castigating him for his evil actions. Aqa Mirak, the last director of the Shahnama project, has minimized the number of figures to heighten the dramatic tension between the protagonists
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. 364-370.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 196.
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. 222 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 242, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 284, 332, ill. fol. 543r, full-page color ill. p. 284; detail p. 332.