" A Lion", Folio from a Dispersed Nuzhatnama-i ‘Ala’i of Shahmardan ibn Abi’l Khayr
Shamardan ibn Abi 'l Khayr (active 11th century)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
early 17th century
Attributed to Iran, possibly Qazvin
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: 3 in. (7.6 cm)
W. 4 1/8in. (10.5cm)
Mat: H. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
W. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
Frame: H. 16 3/4 in. (42.5 cm)
W. 21 3/4 in. (55.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1913
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 are characterized by the absence of marginal rulings and a horizon line. However, here the rocks and earth in the foreground and reeds through which the animal strides provide a defined context for the scene. This may be a result of the many pictorial prototypes of lions in reeds that are found in sixteenth-century and earlier Persian manuscript illustration. More typical of the paintings in this manuscript is the painting of rocks, leaves and flowers with wash instead of the customary saturated pigments of early sixteenth-century Persian painting and 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. 129, to MMA]
Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 46.
Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8, 2013–May 9, 2013, no. 46.
Contadini, Anna. "A Wonderful World: Folios from a Dispersed Manuscript of the Nuzhat-Nama." Muqarnas vol. 21 (2004). p. 116, ill. fig. 15 (recto).
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art. Tokyo: Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 2012. no. 46, pp. 99, 226, ill. color, b/w.