Reclining Figure

Not on view

This figure, elegantly draped over a cushion and dreamily gazing into the viewer’s space, has traditionally been identified as a woman. Not only the leggings with a decorative border, but also the figure’s voluminous thighs, pearl necklace and long hair are all associated with women in the Safavid period. However, the long floppy cap is an article of male clothing and suggests a different reading of this drawing. According to European visitors to Iran in the seventeenth century, youths who "dressed effeminately" were employed in coffeehouses to dance suggestively and serve as prostitutes for the male clientele. Safavid paintings of alluring women invariably emphasize their breasts and often show more skin whereas this figure covers his chest and is fully clothed, relying on his alluring pose to please the viewer or owner of this work.

Reclining Figure, Ink, watercolor, and gold on paper

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