Probably from a garden pavilion in Isfahan, Iran
Composite body, 28 square tiles, painted and glazed in cuerda seca technique over white slip, set on plaster
Panel: 38 x 63 in. (96.5 x 160 cm), tile: 8 7/8 x 8 7/8 in. (22.5 x 22.5 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1903 (03.9a-c)
Isfahan, the Safavid capital, and Nain were the two main centers in which buildings were lavishly decorated with tilework. The old tile-making tradition of composing repetitive geometrical or vegetal patterns was kept alive on mosques and madrasas, but an important innovation on secular buildings was a composition of square tiles individually painted as single elements of an outdoor scene with characters set in a garden landscape. These were placed in royal garden pavilions from the time of Shah cAbbas to that of Shah Sulayman (the last example being the Hasht Bihisht of 1669). The Museum owns three of these panels, all purchased in 1903 and reported to come from "a palace and pavilion built by Shah cAbbas on the garden avenue of the Chahar Bagh at Isfahan." The panel here shows a woman and three men (two of them sitting in conversation, one of the two in the act of writing) and a woman in the garden. Such scenes were among the most frequent and fashionable subjects chosen by miniature painters of the Safavid period.