Islamic Art: Mu'in Musavvir's Youth Playing a Flute
Description: A kneeling youth playing a flute, signed by Mu'in Musavvir, Persia, Isfahan, dated 23rd Rabi' al-Awwal A.H.1087/6th June A.D.1676.
Gouache with gold on paper, the uncoloured background painted with rocks, flowers and clouds in gold, signed and dated in gold at lower left, laid down on an album page with green inner borders and plain cream outer borders.
Size: miniature, 18.3 by 9.4 cm.
Provenance:Formerly in the collection of Walter Cabot, thence by descent.
This portrait of a well-dressed youth playing a flute is an important example of the single-figure portraits painted by Mu'in Musavvir (1617-1708), who was one of the greatest and most prolific artists of the 17th century. He was a student of the great court painter Reza-i Abbasi and a portrait of his master by Mu'in survives in the Princeton University Library (Garrett Coll.96G). His long career (c.1635-1707) gave him the opportunity to produce a large corpus of work, and although much of it was concerned with traditional manuscript illustration, including several Shahnama manuscripts, he also took the art of single-page compositions to new heights (see Farhad, 1990).
Mu'in painted two other miniatures closely related to the present piece within the first three months of the year A.H. 1087. A youth on horseback was painted on 5th Muharram 1087 (21st March 1676) and a youthful shepherd playing the pipes was painted just two days before the present piece, on 21st Rabi' al-Awwal 1087 (4th June 1676).