Lot n° 85
5000 - 6000
Result with fees
: 1 690EUR
Importante miniature du « Shahnameh Tabbagh » : Iskandar réconfortant Dara mourant
North India or Mysore, late 18th century
Gouache and gold on manuscript page on thick paper. Text on 6 columns framed with gold fillets, 29 lines per page. The miniature, bordered by a line of text at the top and bottom, illustrates a scene from a Shahnameh of Firdousi. In the foreground, Iskandar supports Dara lying against him, while princes and soldiers look on. In the background, behind a hill, the armies stand with two flags, one of which is decorated with "Buddha lips" or stylized double tiger stripes. The old frame bears on the reverse an old label numbered "214".
Size: page: 49.5 x 33.8 cm; size of the text: 36.5 x 24 cm; miniature: 34 x 24 cm
Provenance : Georges Tabbagh (Aleppo, Syria 1867 - Paris 1957), great collector, antique dealer and Parisian donor ; Maurice Chaltiel, engineer (born in Neuilly-sur-Seine 1923). The miniature is listed on his insurance inventory dated April 14, 1970.
The miniature presented here comes from a very large manuscript (about 50 x 35 cm), notoriously known as "Shahnameh Tabbagh" after its former owner. The beautiful composition of the page, structured in registers, makes the scene both majestic and dramatic. The large size of the figures is characteristic of this manuscript, and the highly emphasized eyes suggest an Indian origin.
The manuscript was dispersed by Tabbagh without any mention of a colophon, and the very particular style of the miniatures has given rise to various suggestions as to its origin, first presumed to be Persian, then Indian or Kashmiri of the 18th century.
A scientific analysis carried out in 2003 by Axelle Deleau on pigments from pages in the Louvre Museum indicates the presence of peori in the yellow of the Shahnameh known as Tabbagh, a pigment found only in India. This information published by Charlotte Maury (Sophie Makariou (ed.), Les Arts d'l'Islam au musée du Louvre, Paris, 2012, note 74 p. 432-512) confirms the attribution to India.
More recently, Barbara Brend and Charles Melville (Epic of the Persian kings: the art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, I.B. Tauris, 2010, no. 101 p. 232) have suggested that this imposing Shahnameh might have been commissioned in Mysore by Tipu Sultan, whose interest in this literary epic is well known. The flag flying here in the background could evoke the stylized tiger stripe motif dear to Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) and could corroborate this attribution, supported by the large size of the manuscript which implies a very high ranking patron. Several pages of this manuscript are listed. Among these: In museums:
- Two were donated by Tabbagh in 1927 to the Louvre Museum, Paris (inv. no. OA 7887 and 7888) (see: I. Stchoukine, Les miniatures persanes, Musée national du Louvre, 1932, no. LVI and LVII pl . XXX, M. Bernus-Taylor, l'Islam dans les collections nationales, Grand Palais, Paris, 1977, n° 432 p. 195 and Sophie Makariou (ed.), Les Arts de l'Islam au musée du Louvre, Paris, 2012 n°257 p. 433 ;
- One is in the British Museum, entered in 1928 (Barbara Brend and Charles Melville, Epic of the Persian kings: the art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, I.B. Tauris, 2010, n° 101 p. 232) ;
- Two miniatures are published by E. Blochet, Musulman Painting XIIth-XVIIth century, London 1929, pl. CLXIX and CLXX. The one illustrated on pl. CLXIX entered the Binney collection and was published by B.W. Robinson, "Rothschild and Binney Collections: Persian and Mughal arts of the Book" in Persian and Mughal Art, Colnaghi's, 1976, no. 64 p. 87 ill. p. 156; As for the one illustrated on pl. CLXX, of which we seemed to have lost track, it recently reappeared anonymously in London at Christie's South Kensington on April 11, 2014, no. 37, without attribution or reference; - A page from the Pozzi collection was bequeathed to the Musée d'art et d'histoire de Genève in 1971 (Basil W. Robinson, Jean Pozzi, l'Orient d'un collectionneur, Musée Rath exhibition, Geneva, 1992, no. 528 p. 199, ill. p. 353); - one page is in the Museum Für Islamische Kunst in Berlin (inv. Nr. I. 7021) (see the exhibition catalog by Julia Gonnella and Christoph Rauch, Heroische Zeiten: Tausend Jahre Persisches Buch der Könige, Pergamonmuseum, Berlin, 2011, no. 75 p. 156); - a page depicting Rostam fighting the dragon is preserved in the Harvard University Museum (no. 1948.61) (see note 72 p. 512 in Sophie Makariou (ed.),op.cit.).
In public sales:
- Nine pages were sold at Drouot, Paris, by Maître J. Chalvet de Recy (expert A.M. Kevorkian), Importante collection de miniatures orientales, 26 October 1973, n° 59 to 67 (of which n° 59 is published in Blochet pl. CLXIX p
Return to catalogue