This painting shows the dramatic confrontation between the hero Bizhan, on the right, and Farud, the brave halfbrother of the Iranian king Kai Khusrau, in the fort on the left. Each has just slain his opponent’s horse, and eventually Farud will also be killed. This painting comes from a copy of the highly Persianate Shahnama that was probably made in northern India. The paintings from this book were later cut out and placed in an album with brightly colored borders.
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Title:"Bizhan Forces Farud to Retreat into his Fort", Folio from a Shahnama (Book of Kings)
Author:Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (Iranian, Paj ca. 940/41–1020 Tus)
Geography:Attributed to India
Medium:Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm) W. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
Credit Line:The Grinnell Collection, Bequest of William Milne Grinnell, 1920
Bizhan Forces Farud to Retire into his Fort
Impelled by fate and the importunate pigheadedness of the commander in chief, the brave half-brother of the Iranian king Kay Khosrow, Farud, found himself in hostile confrontation with the whole Iranian army. In single combat, he had made a mockery of its leading warriors. However, when Farud shot the steed of the redoubtable hero Bizhan out from under him, Bizhan, instead of fleeing, as had his predecessors, continued to advance on foot. This unknightly behavior threw Farud into confusion and enabled Bizhan to slay his opponent's horse. Farud barely managed to escape on foot through his castle gate.
The artist of this miniature has chosen to illustrate the crucial moment of the encounter between the heroes, and in his dramatic presentation of the episode has remained faithful to the text of the epic.
The paintings from this manuscript, and others related to it, for a long time were considered provincial Persian work, but a Sultanate Indian provenance has now been established, although exact locations, dates, and other details of various Sultanate schools have yet to be determined. Some of the characteristically Sultanate features of this miniature are the dramatic and lively presentation of the scene, with the slain horses in the foreground, the dominant and large-scale figure of Bizhan seeming to fly over the ground in pursuit of Farud, the massed warriors at the battlements, and the abundance of arrows embedded in their several targets. The original if bizarre handling of the architectural forms of the castle, the light green matte ground, the animated curve of the tree trunk and branches, as well as the treatment and color of the leaves, are also identifyable Sultanate.
Marie Lukens Swietochowski in [Berlin 1981]
William Milne Grinnell, New York (until d. 1920; bequeathed to MMA)
Edinburgh. Scottish Arts Council. "The Imperial Theme in Persian Miniature Painting," August 13, 1977–September 11, 1977, no. 145.
Berlin. Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981, no. 120.
Joseph Breck. "The William Milne Grinell Bequest." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, o.s., vol. XV (1920). pp. 273–75.
Binyon, Laurence, Basil Gray, and James Vere Stewart Wilkinson. "Including a Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House." In Persian Miniature Painting. London, 1933.
Dimand, Maurice S. "New York, October 9 through January 7, 1933–1934." In A Guide to an Exhibition of Islamic Miniature Painting and Book Illumination. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1933. p. 28.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. pp. 38–39.
Hillenbrand, Robert. Imperial Images in Persian Painting. Edinburgh: Scottish Arts Council Gallery, 1977. no. 145, p. 65.
"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 120, pp. 284–85, ill. p. 285 (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 130, ill. fig. 100 (color).
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