Royal Riding Horse and Runner
The elegant arabesques of the design, the kindred textures of the horse's dappled coat and the fantastic rocky landscape, and the stereotyped physiognomy of the groom, with ovoid head, large chin, dark eyes, small nose, and bowlike mouth, are some of the features indicating that the painter of this miniature was trained in the Persian style. The edges of the forms modulate from light to dark, creating a continuously changing visual interplay between the horse and the background, like that seen in nature. Although the horse and groom exist within a narrow space, the setting is a deep landscape.
Steven M. Kossak in [Kossak 1997]An Ayyar Leads a Royal Horse
The figure leading this dappled grey steed is no ordinary groom putting his master's horse through its paces. Battle-axe in hand and dagger tucked in belt, he is much too heavily armed for such mundane matters. Wiry and whippetlike, he is perfectly outfitted for speed and stealth. He is, in fact, an , a kind of spy shown skulking about in many a illustration, here brought out in the open for a solo performance. never ride, so the richly caparisoned horse must be that of a prince or amir.
The s delicate features, the elegant linear rhythms of the horse, and the stone-strewn landscape have led some scholars to attribute this painting to Abdul-Samad. In the lower right corner, however, is a minute ascription to Mah Muhammad, an artist heretofore little known in Mughal painting. His only other ascribed works—illustrations in the of Nizami in the Keir Collection and the in the Victoria and Albert Museum—exhibit the same Persianate figure style, though in those slightly later paintings it is tinged by Mughal modeling. The landscape of the Keir illustration is stippled and less barren, but features discrete stones scattered beside a stream in much the same manner as they appear here.
The painting, in turn, supports the attribution of several important early paintings to Mah Muhammad, most notably a much-published depiction of Prince Akbar hunting dear. Spindly figures and some faces, such as that of the man by the stream and the doll-like ones elsewhere, recur in the illustration. Jagged rocks with distinctive white internal highlights appear in both works, and in an illustration from the of 1570, a painting that should be attributed to Mah Muhammad as well. The combination of attenuated forms and a dark green ground streaked with loosely painted yellow tufts also connect Mah Muhammad with cat. 15 in this volume (British Museum, London, 1948 10-9, 076), and with a painting of a doe suckling its fawn.
John Seyller in [Seyller et al. 2002]
1. Canby, Sheila, 'The Horses of 'Abd us-Samad', in Asok Kumar Das, ed. Mughal Masters : Further Studies. Mumbai, Marg Publications, 1998, p. 16; Dickson, Martin and Cary Stuart Welch, The Houghton Shahnameh, 2 vols. Cambridge, MA, and London: Harvard University Press 1981, p. 199.
2. Victoria & Albert Museum, London I.S.2-1896, no. 50/117. This painting, which dates from the mid-1580s, is unpublished.
3. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, PD 72-1948, published in Beach, Milo, Early Mughal Painting, Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press, 1987, frontspiece.
4. School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Ms.10102, f. 93b; Seyler, John, 'The School of Oriental and African Studies Anvar -i Suhayli: The Illustration of a De Luxe Mughal Manuscript', Ars Orientalis, 16, 1986, pp. 119–51, fig. 16.
5. San Diego Museum of Art, 1990:272; Beach 1987 (see note 3), fig. 32.