Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Shah Safi' Al-Din At A Picnic With Ambassadors
19th century CE
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
28.5 x 17.7 cm
The scene of a Safavid ruler entertaining a foreign ambassador with music and refreshments in an opulent court setting was a popular one as it reinforced the power and grandeur of the ruler. The painting is likely a copy after a lost original, based on a type of seventeenth-century composition known from the time of Shah ‛Abbas II (r. 1642-66 CE), such as the painting depicting the audience of the Mughal ambassador Tarbiyat Khan and Shah ‛Abbas II ascribed to Shaykh ‛Abbasi and dated 1074 H/1663-34 CE (Welch 1973, p. 100, no. 62). The ambassador in the present painting may be a European as suggested by his hat. The unusual feather head-dresses on some of the figures could be a misplaced reference to the Mongols. The painting’s lavish use of gold and bright palette of contrasting colours may suggest an attribution to the Deccan.
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