"Jonah and the Whale", Folio from a Jami al-Tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles)
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
H. 13 1/4 in. (33.7 cm)
W. 19 1/2 in. (49.5 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1933
Not on view
The story of Jonah and the Whale, mentioned in the Qur'an (37:139), was popular in the Muslim world and frequently illustrated in manuscripts of world history. This large-scale painting, however, never formed part of a manuscript. Rather, it may have been used during oral recitation or storytelling. Scholars have also suggested that with its strong palette, monumental figures, and spare composition, this work may reflect a now-lost wall painting tradition. Here, we see Jonah after his release from the belly of the fish. Above him, a gourd vine grows—sent by God to protect him from the elements—and, gliding across the top of the painting, a spirited angel with colorful spreading wings offers Jonah a garment.
Inscription: In Persian, on the arms of Jonah. "The sun's disk went into darkness, Jonah went into the mouth of the fish."
[ Armenag Bey Sakisian, Paris, until 1933; sold to MMA]
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