Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures
Bearded Man Reading Outdoors
Safavid, c. 1640 CE
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper
Page 8.9 x 17.1 cm; Image 6.1 x 16.2 cm
In the centre of the drawing, an old bearded man, leaning back and holding a staff in his left hand, is reading from a book nestled in his lap. He is wearing a long robe richly-decorated with a floral pattern in gold and blue, a gold turban, and has a shawl over his left shoulder. The landscape consists of a small tree, some sprouting plants, and a fern. Canby has noted that this portrait was adapted from a similar one of a bearded sage by the Safavid artist Riza-yi 'Abbasi, dated 1622 CE. Works of celebrated artists such as Riza often were copied by contemporary artists. The prodigious use of gold for the figure’s robe and turban as well as the gilded landscape represent a departure from Riza’s portrait of a simple sage in the wilderness and suggest instead a more opulent version of the theme.
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