"The Coronation of the Infant Shapur II", Folio 538r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Muzaffar 'Ali (active late 1520s–70s; d. ca. 1576)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 13 1/4 x W. 8 11/16 in. (H. 33.7 x W. 22.1 cm) Entire Page: H. 18 9/16 x W. 12 1/2 in. (H. 47.1 x W. 31.8 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
The last section of the Shahnama chronicles the reigns of the Sasanian kings of Iran. Here, the tiny infant Shapur, born after the death of his father Hurmuzd II, is depicted seated on an ornately bejeweled throne as his nurse fans him. The artist Muzaffar 'Ali’s lifelong familiarity with the court and his good-natured approach to its denizens inform the portrayal of the servants bearing jewels and gifts for the new king, the chatting courtiers in the foreground, and the elegant ladies who observe from a window above the door.
Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A King's Book of Kings: Persian Miniatures from Shah Tahmasp's Shahnama of 1528," May 4, 1972–December 31, 1972, no catalog.
Mohl, Jules, ed. Le Livre des Rois. Vol. I. Paris, 1876. pp. 339-342.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. p. 196.
Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 221 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 241, ill. (color).
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. pp. 283, 50, ill. fol. 538r, full-page color ill. p. 283, detail p. 50.