- Museum number
- Series: Album of Drawings of Flowers, Etc.
Flowers in a jug; unmounted single-page drawing bound into an album. A butterfly alights on a bunch of carnations held in a jug; some flowers blossom amidst unopened buds. A smaller fly hovers at left. The drawing has been pounced for transfer to another surface, probably a textile; tiny pin-pricks follow the outline of the flowers. Dated signature at upper left corner. Inscribed at upper left corner.
Ink and wash on paper. Album contains twenty-eight folios with fifty-five drawings of flowers, plants, insects and birds, attributed to Shafi` `Abbasi. Album originally leather-bound with paintings of flowers on front and back lacquered covers. A memorandum by Anthony Gardner on a preliminary page, dated February 1942, describes the album's condition before restoration measures. These replaced the leather binding with linen hinges and attached the lacquer boards to new covers. An eighth of an inch was also trimmed from the folios' lower edges.
- Production date
Height: 28 centimetres (album)
Height: 27.50 centimetres (drawing)
Thickness: 2.70 centimetres (album)
Width: 19.50 centimetres (album)
Width: 18.50 centimetres (drawing)
- Curator's comments
The white watermark at the right of the image indicates the European origin of the paper. Also evident are the wavy horizontal chain lines and the vertical laid lines of the laid paper mould. Moreover, the drawing's technique, in which grey washes and cross-hatching are employed to indicate shading and define three-dimensional form, suggests that Shafi` `Abbasi was looking beyond the mere subject matter to try to grasp the mechanics of his European model. See Canby 1993 p. 14, 109-10 for more information.
The album containing this drawing consists of a number of drawings that have been pounced and some, in turn, that have been copied from European, printed or other sources (see below). The striated lines and cross-hatching on the flowers on the later drawings suggest that the artists derived their inspiration from European engravings. Two drawings in this album contain a seal impression with the name ‘Muhammad Shafi` Isfahani’, who can be identified with Shafi` `Abbasi, the son of Riza-yi `Abbasi. Although Shafi` produced some portraits early in his career, he specialised in bird and flower subjects from the late 1630s to the 1650s. See Canby 2009 p. 234 for more information.
The pounced pictures of flowers may have been intended as textile designs, since floral motifs were a dominant theme of seventeenth-century Safavid textiles. Basil Gray proposes that some of the drawings in the album are based on an English source which he identifies as the "Therd Booke of Flowers, Fruits, Beastes, Birds, and Flies," illustrated by John Dunstall and published in London in 1661. Such a book would have included patterns for textiles presumably made in Iran or India for the English market. See Gray 1959 for more information.
See 1988,0423,0.1 .1-.56 for all folios contained in this album.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013 - 2014 27 Sep - 12 Jan, Zurich, Museum Rietberg, 'The Fascination of Persia' 1988,0423,0.1.26 displayed
2009 19 Feb-14 Jun, BM, Round Reading Room, 'Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran'
2009/2010 Oct – Mar, Jun-Jul, London, BM, Gallery 34, ‘Looking East, Looking West’, page 54 displayed
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- Registration number