"A Bull", Folio from a Dispersed Nuzhatnama-i ‘Ala’i of Shahmardan ibn Abi’l Khayr, Shamardan ibn Abi 'l Khayr (active 11th century), Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

"A Bull", Folio from a Dispersed Nuzhatnama-i ‘Ala’i of Shahmardan ibn Abi’l Khayr

Shamardan ibn Abi 'l Khayr (active 11th century)
Object Name:
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
early 15th century
Attributed to Iran
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Painting with Text Block: H. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm)
Page: H. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm)
W. 6 9/16 in. (16.7 cm)
Mat:: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
Not on view
The encyclopaedic text from which this page comes was written between 1095 and 1119 and consists of two parts, one devoted to the three kingdoms of nature, including humans, animals, agriculture and minerals and the other to various sciences and pseudosciences. Nineteen folios with thirty-three images are extant and widely dispersed in museums in Europe and North America. The illustrations of animals, such as this one of a bull, are characterized by the absence of marginal rulings and a horizon line. Other features specific to this manuscript include flying insects, as seen here at the left and butterflies as at the right, which suggest a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century date. The painting of rocks, leaves and flowers with wash instead of the customary saturated pigments of early sixteenth-century Persian painting recall the similar treatment in the work of some Isfahan painters around 1600. However, the absence here of the calligraphic line defining contours characteristic of those Isfahan works on the one hand and the dearth of closely comparable images from other schools on the other make the assignment of the manuscript to a specific place of production untenable.
[ Léonce Rosenberg, Paris, until 1913; cat., 1913, no. 123, to MMA]
Contadini, Anna. "A Wonderful World: Folios from a Dispersed Manuscript of the Nuzhat-Nama." Muqarnas vol. 21 (2004). p. 116, ill. fig. 16 (recto).