Angels Bring Food to Ibrahim Adham at Dawn India, Hyderabad c. 1750-1775 Opaque watercolor heightened with gold on paper, with double foliate borders, mounted on a gold-sprinkled album page Calligraphy panel on verso Folio: 18 1/3 x 14 in. (46.5 x 35.7 cm.) Image: 10 x 7 in. (25.6 x 18 cm.)
Provenance: Sotheby’s London, 14 February 1987, lot 16 Private collection, Derbyshire, 1987-2010
Exhibited: Worlds Beyond: Death and the Afterlife in Art Cartwright Hall, Bradford, December-February 1993 Castle Museum, Nottingham, March-April 1994 Walsall City Art Gallery, May-June 1994
Inscription: ‘Ibrahim Adham [God’s] mercy be upon him’ On the reverse is a Persian prose text in nasta’liq on the life of Ibrahim Adham. ‘Abraham son of Adam’ is pictured asleep beneath a rock at sunrise leaning on his fakir’s crutch, warmed by a fire, wearing a patchwork dervish cloak, while two angels swoop down through the trees to bring him food in gold dishes. The scene is set in a striking landscape with a flower- and bird-filled lake in the foreground and another behind the saint, leading to a rocky landscape typical of the Deccan with buildings perched on conical hills.
Ibrahim Adham was an eighth-ninth century King of Balkh who sought God but through several spiritual visitations realised that he could not find Him whilst living the luxurious life of the palace. Surrendering his kingship, he became a wandering dervish and achieved a semi-mythical status. The subject of this painting illustrates one of the most popular stories about him and was frequently depicted in eighteenth century Mughal India. For examples from Avadh and Murshidabad, see Falk and Archer 1981, nos. 325 and 367, respectively; Kühnel 1922, pl. 140, (Avadh), and Hurel 2010, no. 211, (Murshidabad).
References Kühnel, E., ‘Mihr Tschand, ein unbekannter Mogulmaler’, in Berliner Museen, 43, 1922 Falk, T., and Archer, M., Indian Miniatures in the India Office Library, London, 1981 Hurel, R., Miniatures et Peintures Indiennes, Paris, 2010
A Leaf from a Ragini Inscribed Nand Dasi (Yogini) India, Deccan c. 17th century
A Leaf from a Ragini Inscribed Nand Dasi (Yogini) India, Deccan c. 17th century Gouache with gold on paper Folio: 12 x 8 in. (30.4 x 20.3 cm.) Image: 6 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. (16.5 x 8.9 cm.)
This folio is meant to embody a musical composition; each Raga or Ragini is capable of emoting and is attributed unique characteristics, so it was natural that these compositions could be translated into visual artwork. These types of works were encouraged between the 16th and 19th centuries by Mughal rulers who patronised the mass production of miniature paintings. While this and many other works were influenced by Mughal persuasion, Deccani elements can be seen here through treatment of line. The female figure’s robes are curving, taking up an almost lyrical form that is frequently designated as a Deccani feature.
A Portrait of Munir-al-Mulk (called Aristu Jah) Attributed to the circle of Rai Venkatchellam India, Deccan c. 1790-1810
A Portrait of Munir-al-Mulk (called Aristu Jah) Attributed to the circle of Rai Venkatchellam India, Deccan c. 1790-1810 Gouache with ink and gold on paper 8 x 4 3/4 in. (20.3 x 12 cm.)
Provenance: Private Belgian collection
Under a gold and jewel-encrusted turreted canopy sits Diwan Munir-al-Mulk, the prime minister of Nizam Sikandar Jah (r. 1803-1829), the ruler of Hyderabad. Munir-al-Mulk was often referred to under the name of Aristu Jah, which may cause some confusion due to the fact that the Diwan to the previous Nizam, Ali Khan (r. 1762-1803), was also called Aristu Jah. The older Diwan was an entirely different individual named Azim ul Umara, father of Saif al Mulk.
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Asia Week NY 2019
Arcane Masters: A Curated Exhibition of Indian and Himalayan Art
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