Calligraphic piece in nasta'liq from an album, by Muhammad Ja'far Qazvini, 1674/5

(downloaded Sept. 2003)

"GUL-O BULBUL. Possibly by Bahram Sofrakesh, mid-17th century. From the Manley album, the recto gouache heightened with gold on paper, a goldfinch seated on the branch of a rosebush, with other brightly coloured plants and butterflies around it, mounted on card with a border of birds and deer in gold, outer blue margin with spiralling floral meander, verso with a page of calligraphy, 4ll. of black nasta'liq within gold clouds highlighted with floral motifs, signed below Muhammad Ja'far Husayn Qazwini and dated 1085, gold floral margins, similar outer border to recto. Folio 12½ x 7½in. (31.8 x 19.2cm.); miniature 4 x 7in. (10 x 17.5cm.)

Lot Notes: The artist of this miniature is unknown, but it undoubtedly dates from the period of around 1640-70. It shares a characteristic with the work of the little-known artist, Bahram Sofrakesh, namely the oversized plant in relation to the size of the bird. Only two signed works of this artist are known; one of them is of a pair of lovers seated beneath an enormous sprig of wild rose, as here and it features a similar coloured moth to the one to the left of the bird in this painting. Abolala Soudavar has attributed another gul-o bulbul painting in the collection of the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan to Bahram Sofrakesh on the strength of this feature, the treatment of the wild rose and the observation of plant and insect life (Canby, S.: Islamic and Indian Paintings from the Collection of Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan, London, 1998, no.116, pp.157-8; Soudavar, A.: Art of the Persian Courts, New York, 1992, no. 145, pp. 366-7; Welch, A. and Welch, S.C.: Arts of the Islamic Book, London, 1982, nos. 75-6, pp.225-9).

This miniature was originally part of an album which was sold at Sotheby's in 1971. It was part of the collection of Dr Manley, formerly an officer of the Bengal Lancers. He served in the Indian Police in Bombay from 1905-24, where his interest in Oriental art originated. From 1917-19 he saw active service on the North-West frontier with the Lancers.

It appears that most of the miniatures and calligraphies in the album were 17th century in date and either Iranian or Mughal in origin. The borders appear to be Indian work of the 18th century, though the small format of the album has an Iranian feel."