Inks, colors, and gold on paper; 11 1/2 x 5 3/4 in. (29.2 x 14.6 cm)
Gift of Charles K. Wilkinson, 1979 (1979.518.1)
During the reign of the Qajar dynasty, and especially toward the end of the period, there was an effort to draw inspiration from the high artistic achievements of the past. This archaistic drawing exemplifies an interest in reviving ancient myths and the characters popular with earlier artists. Here we find the much-favored subject of Bilqis, the queen of Sheba. This folio would traditionally have been half of a double-page composition, the other page showing Solomon (Sulayman) enthroned, surrounded by the divs (demons), peris (fairies), animals, and birds that were subject to his command. The style of the drawing is closely based on that of the school of Shiraz of about 1575, with certain details, such as the treatment of sashes, borrowed from the court style of Qazvin of the same period. The figural types, poses, gestures, and costumes, as well as the proliferation of architectural patterns and designs, are faithful to the earlier tradition. What is unusual is the extremely fine quality of the drawing. The flowing lines, subtle treatment of form, meticulously rendered patterns, and delicate coloring, unified by the complex overall rhythms of the composition, make this a work of high artistic merit.