"Bahram Gur Pins the Coupling Onagers", Folio 568r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Mir Sayyid 'Ali (active ca. 1530–75)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm)
W. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
Page: H. 18 9/16 in. (47.1 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
Not on view
One day, Shah Bahram and a large party of horsemen were hunting in a plain overrun with onagers, or wild asses. Letting fly an arrow at a buck mounting his mate, Bahram pinned them together and earned the nickname Bahram Gur, or "Onagers" Bahram. Distinguished for his meticulous attention to detail, Mir Sayyid 'Ali had been raised in the Safavid artists’ atelier under the tutelage of his father, Mir Musavvir, the second director of Shah Tahmasp’s Shahnama project. The simurgh on Bahram Gur’s saddlecloth and intricate designs on his quiver and saddle are typical of Mir Sayyid 'Ali’s work.
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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A King's Book of Kings: Persian Miniatures from Shah Tahmasp's Shahnama of 1528," May 4, 1972–December 31, 1972, no catalog.
Cambridge, MA. Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums. "Wonders of the Age: Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting," March 29, 1980–May 18, 1980, no. 33.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 177-179, ill. pp. 176, 178-179, 568r (color, 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. 33, pp. 104-105, ill. p. 104 (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. 230 (b/w).
Gray, Basil, ed. "The Pictorial Arts in the Timurid Period." In The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. VI. 1986. ill. pl. 72 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "Five Centuries of Painting." In Persian Masters. Bombay: Marg Publications, 1990. p. 88, ill. fig. 3.
Kossak, Steven M., ed. Indian Court Painting 16th–19th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. p. 11, ill. fig. 5 (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 250, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 292, ill. fol. 568r, full-page color illustration.