Youth in European Dress and Young Woman with Indian Headdress, from a Shahnamah

ink, gold and opaque watercolour on paper

35.5 x 21.3cm (page); 29.5 x 15cm (within outer gold rules)

The two paintings fall on the spread separating the first and second volumes of a dispersed copy of Firdawsi’s Shahnamah. The paintings are both signed by Mu‘in Musavvir, who was also responsible for other illustrations in the manuscript. The presence of two such figure studies in the middle of a Shahnamah is difficult to explain.

The right-hand page of the spread (MSS 1000.1) shows a youth in European (probably Portuguese) dress, with a white lap-dog at his foot. The left-hand page (MSS 1000.2) shown a young woman in Safavid costume but with an Indian headdress. The paintings are on a ground of swirling foliage set in margins with birds and animals, all on gold.

J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.309 and 310, p.270.