"Prince Killing a Lion", Folio from the Davis Album, Ali Reza, Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper

"Prince Killing a Lion", Folio from the Davis Album

Ali Reza
Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
17th century
Attributed to Iran
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Page: H. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm)
W. 8 9/16 in. (21.7 cm)
Painting: H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
W. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
Mat: H. 19 1/4 in. (48.9 cm)
W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
Accession Number:
Not on view
This dramatic scene depicts a prince stabbing a wounded lion as his horse sinks its teeth into the lion's neck. On the basis of the tightly wound turban with a thick bulge in front and a fanned end with flowers on a gold ground the painting can be dated to the 1690's or early eighteenth century. A signature would have appeared in the faintly visible cartouche beneath the horse's belly but it has faded into illegibility. The style of the work with the lightly painted villages and mountains in the background recalls works of the 1690s signed by Muhammad Zaman. The bold nasta'liq calligraphy mounted above and below the painting is signed by 'Ali Riza 'Abbasi, the director of the library of Shah 'Abbas (r. 1587–1629).
Inscription: Translation: Ali Reza Abbasi in the month of Rajab.
Notes: This means that the script is Persian, first half XVII century. (Annemarie Schimmel, 1985)

The large upper line is Persain poem from Amir Khusrau Dihlavi in nastaʻliq script:
همچو خراجي که بر خراب نویسند
It is like the tax which is ordered on devastated place.
(the poem is from Amir Khusrau Dihlavi and appears as:
صبر طلب می کنند از دل شیدا
همچو براتی که یر خراب نویسند
They asked patience from a fascination heart, it is as though they are asking for taxes from a devastated place.
Divan Amir khusrau Dihlawi)

The large lower inscription in nastaʻliq script is in Arabic-- it is the signature and date of the work.
کتبه العبد المذنب علي رضا العباسي في شهر رجب
Written by the sinner slave Ali Riza al-Abbasi during the month of Rajab.
The small upper and lower inscriptions in nastaʻliq script are verses by Hafiz.
On the four corners there is are verses by Hafiz in nasta'liq script:
نرکس همه شیوه های مستي از چشم خوشت به وام دارد
ذکر رخ و زلف تو دلم را وردیست که صبح و شام دارد
بر سینۀ ریش دردمندان لعلت نمکي تمام دارد
در چاه ذقن چو حافظ ای جان حسن تو دو صد غلام دارد


Marking: Persian calligraphy top and bottom.
Theodore M. Davis, New York (by 1914–d. 1915; bequeathed to MMA)