Muhammad Qasim (attributed to), A picnic at night, a drawing

From Isfahan, Iran
Around AD 1650

The ruler in a relaxed court setting

A party is taking place at night. A prince sits against a tree, attended by servants and musicians. Wine is served, and three women are providing the company with music. In the foreground, a turbaned man offers a cup of wine to the female musicians, who seem to be laughing at him.

The figures are drawn principally in a calligraphic line, although colourful details of the costume, such as inside hems, buttons and undershirts, stand out in strong opaque paint against the buff-coloured paper. The prince's costume receives the most attention; his elaborate fur-lined jacket ensures that he stands out from the other figures. The prince may be a portrait of Shah ʿAbbas II (reigned 1642-66). Muhammad Qasim is known to have painted another portrait of him.

A scene depicting the ruler in a relaxed court setting was a popular theme for the frontispiece of a royal manuscript. However, there was also a trend towards collecting single pages of painting, drawing or calligraphy in albums. It is more likely that this scene was produced on an isolated page, as a more general portrait of court life and entertainment. 

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More information


S. Canby, The rebellious reformer: the d (London, 1997)

A. Soudavar, Art of the Persian courts (New York, Rizzoli, 1992)

S. Canby, The golden age of Persian art, (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 250.000 mm
Width: 170.000 mm

Museum number

ME OA 1920.9-17.0275


Transferred from the Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books, British Library


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