Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"A Youth Fallen From a Tree", Folio from the Shah Jahan Album

Painting by Aqa Riza (Iranian, born Meshhed, ca. 1560, active until ca. 1621)
Mir 'Ali Haravi (d. ca. 1550)
Object Name:
Album leaf
verso: ca. 1610; recto: ca. 1530
Attributed to India
Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
H. 15 3/8 in. (39 cm)
W. 10 1/16 in. (25.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955
Accession Number:
Not on view
Attempting to climb to a bird's nest, a boy fell from the tree to his death. A sufi tries to console the grieving father. The artist, from Herat, came to India and entered Jahangir's service when the emperor was still a prince. While he tried to conform to Mughal taste, and in some pictures succeeded, here the deeply rooted harmoniousness of Perisan painting has prevailed, and the basic lyricism of the style outweighs the tragedy of the event depicted. Jahangir's Mughal reference for sensitive naturalism was encouraged, cultivated, and perfected by Aqa Riza's son, Abu al-Hasan, to whom Jahangir awarded the honorific title of Nadir-i Zaman - the wonder of the age. verso–A Youth Fallen from a Tree

INSCRIBED: (over a butterfly on the border above
the painting, smudged and barely visible)
"drawing [raqam] of Aqa-Riza [Jahangiri]"

Enlarged at the top, presumably by Aqa-Riza
Jahangiri himself

TEMPTED by a bird's nest to climb a tree, a boy fell to his death. His father, consoled by a philosophical Sufi, vents his anguish. Although Aqa-Riza Jahangiri made a strenuous effort to dramatize the tragedy, deep-rooted Iranian ways vitiated his stalwart attempt to express emotion directly. Like us, the emperor was probably troubled by such mannerisms as the ludicrously tiny feet supporting the Sufi's ballooning body. Jahangir's inbred Mughal preference for sensitive naturalism prompted him to give little encouragement to the artist's Iranian harmoniousness. In discussing the artist's son Abu'l-Hasan (pl. 13 in this volume), we quoted Jahangir's single unenthusiastic reference to Aqa-Riza in the Tuzuk: "His father, Aqa Riza'i of Herat, at the time when I was Prince, joined my service. He (Abu'l-Hasan) was
khanazad of my court. There is, however, no comparison between his work and that of his father (i.e., he is far better than his father)."[1]

Jahangir's inclusion of Aqa-Riza's work in his albums and manuscripts can be explained on several grounds. The worthy Iranian artist mastered many styles, from the calligraphic manner of his great Safavid namesake (the original Aqa-Riza, also known as Riza 'Abbasi) to finely executed imperial portraits with few traces of the Iranian manner. He was also capable, industrious, and so ingratiating that he tried to conform to Mughal taste.[2] Moreover, Jahangir's admiration of the son's genius caused him to look favorably upon the father. Such encouragement would have been approved by the Iranian faction that was gaining power both at court and in his household, led by Jahangir's favorite wife, Nur-Jahan.

Stuart Cary Welch in [Welch et al. 1987]

THE MINIATURE is surrounded by a lengthy mathnavi in the ramal meter about the necessity of fasting in the month of Ramadan; it may be part of a longer poem.

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS PAGE has the margin number 17 and belongs to Group A. The very densely filled border of gold plants on a blue ground is in a very crisp style that almost suggests that the leaves have swordlike edges. Among the plants are butterflies, insects, and cloud bands. In the upper left comer is a poppy, with, possibly, a gentian next to it, while the large spiky plant in the lower right border is a Frittilaria imperialis (cult.), with a cyclamen type second from the right in the bottom row and perhaps a lily in the lower right comer.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]


1. Jahangir. The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri; or Memoirs of Jahangir. Trans. Alexander Rogers. Ed. Henry Beveridge. 2 vols. London, 1909–1914, II, p. 20.

2. For a generous listing of Aqa-Riza's works, see Beach, Milo Cleveland. The Grand Mogul: Imperial Painting in India, 1600–1660. Williamstown, Mass., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1978, pp. 92–95.

There is a nineteenth-century copy of this painting in the Wantage Album (V&A 136–1921) entitled "An Incident in the Life of Khwaja Jahah (Dost Muhammad) by Farrukh Beg." On the reverse of this leaf is a painting of an Indian red-wattled lapwing. Apparently in the nineteenth century album-leaf copiers or compilers were unaware of the unwavering seventeenth-century album sequence of alternating pairs of pictures and calligraphies. (See Clarke, C. Stanley. Indian Drawings: Thirty Mogul Paintings of the School of Jahangir (17th Century) and Four Panels of Calligraphy in the Wantage Bequest. Victoria and Albert Museum Portfolios. London, 1922, no. 5, pl. 4, and no. 21, pl. 14) [MLS] recto–Calligraphy

INSCRIBED (on border): "work [''amal] of Fath Muhammad''

THE POETICAL chronogram commemorates the conquest of Astarabad in A.H. 936/ A.D. 1530; the date is found from the name of the month, fumada alakhir. It is signed, "By its scribe, the sinful slave Mir-'Ali," and is a typical example of Mir-'Ali's skill as a deviser of chronograms. The lines are cut out from another manuscript and skillfully pasted on the paper to give the impression of an original page. The poem is surrounded by a minutely written mathnavi in the mutaqarib meter, apparently from Nizami's Sharafnama-i Iskandari (cf. MMA fol. 12v; pl. 45)

Annemarie Schimmel in [Welch et al. 1987]

THIS RECTO page has an all-over border design of a grapevine (Vitis) in gold on a pink ground. The style is as dense and crisp as the border on the verso (pl. 53 in this volume). This folio and MMA fol. 18r (pl. 52 in this volume) are the only two scenes–as opposed to portraits, be they of man, beast, or bird–in the Kevorkian Album. It would seem logcal to suggest that these two folios came from the same
album. The present folio, however, has the margin number 46 which rules out the possibility of the folios having once been facing pages. Another difficulty is that the calligraphy-side border here is a pattern of gold on pink and the calligraphy-side border of the dervishes leaf is a scroll-and-floral design in colors and gold on a buff ground. This disparity does not rule out the two leaves' having belonged to the same album, since there may have been varied border arrangements; however, if the calligraphy sides of the two folios had the same border scheme, their having come from the same album would be reasonably certain, while as it is the question remains open.

This folio could not have been part of the album designated here as 3 of Group A because, if it were, it would have a gold-on-pink border on the portrait side. If it belonged to the same album as MMA fol. 18 (pls. 50 and 51 in this volume) and FGA 39.50 (pls. 19 and 20 in this volume), then they too could not have belonged with that group.

Marie L. Swietochowski in [Welch et al. 1987]
Signature: recto:
In Persian, in lower left corner triangle: By its scribe, the sinful slave Mir 'Ali.

Inscription: verso:
In Persian, over butterfly in margin below painting: Painted by Aqa Riza. recto:
In Persian, in lower part of gilt margin: Work of Fath Muhammad.

Marking: verso:
Margin number '17' is inscribed in the gilt margin.
Jack S. Rofe, Scotland (in 1929; sale, Sotheby's London,December 12, 1929, no. 105, to Kevorkian); [ Hagop Kevorkian, New York, from 1929]; [ Kevorkian Foundation, New York, until 1955; gift and sale to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Emperor's Album: Images of Mughal India," October 21, 1987–February 14, 1988, nos. 53 and 54.

Zurich. Museum Rietberg. "Wonder of the Age: Master painters of India, 1100–1900," April 30, 2011–August 21, 2011, no. 27.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100–1900," September 26, 2011–January 8, 2012.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100–1900," September 26, 2011–January 8, 2012.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Wonder of the Age: Master painters of India, 1100–1900," September 28, 2011–January 8, 2012, no. 27.

Sotheby's: Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures. London: Sotheby's, New York, 1929. no. 105.

Welch, Stuart Cary, Annemarie Schimmel, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, and Wheeler M. Thackston. The Emperors' Album: Images of Mughal India. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. nos. 53, 54, pp. 190-193, ill., verso pl. 53 (color); recto pl. 54 (color).

Okada, Amina. Imperial Mughal Painters: Indian Miniatures from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Paris: Flammarion, 1992. p. 109, ill. fig. 118 (color), verso.

Beach, Milo C., Eberhard Fischer, and B.N. Goswamy. Masters of Indian Painting. Vol. Vols. I, II. Zurich, Switzerland: Artibus Asiae Publishers, 2011. vol. I, pp. 212, 221, ill. fig. 6 (color).

Guy, John, and Jorrit Britschgi. Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India 1100–1900. New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 27, pp. 71-72, ill. p. 72 (color).

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