"Bahram Gur Pins the Coupling Onagers", Folio 568r from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Mir Sayyid 'Ali (active ca. 1530–75)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm)
W. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm)
Page: H. 18 9/16 in. (47.1 cm)
W. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
One day, Shah Bahram and a large party of horsemen were hunting in a plain overrun with onagers, or wild asses. Letting fly an arrow at a buck mounting his mate, Bahram pinned them together and earned the nickname Bahram Gur, or "Onagers" Bahram. Distinguished for his meticulous attention to detail, Mir Sayyid 'Ali had been raised in the Safavid artists’ atelier under the tutelage of his father, Mir Musavvir, the second director of Shah Tahmasp’s Shahnama project. The simurgh on Bahram Gur’s saddlecloth and intricate designs on his quiver and saddle are typical of Mir Sayyid 'Ali’s work.
Shah Tahmasp, Iran (until 1568; gifted to Selim II); Sultan Selim II, Istanbul (from 1568); Sultan Selim III, Istanbul (by 1800); Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Paris (by 1903–d. 1934); his son, Baron Maurice de Rothschild, Paris and Pregny, near Geneva (by 1955–d. 1957); [ Stiebel Ltd., New York, until 1959; sold to Houghton]; Arthur A. Houghton Jr., New York (1959–70; gifted to MMA)
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 177-179, ill. pp. 176, 178-179, 568r (color, b/w).
Dickson, Martin, and Stuart Cary Welch. The Houghton Shahnameh. Vol. vols. I & II. Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1981. vol. II, ill. pl. 230 (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Cary, Sheila R. Canby, and Norah M. Titley. "Masterpieces of Early Safavid Painting, 1501–1576." In Wonders of the Age. Cambridge, MA: Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums, 1979. no. 33, pp. 104-105, ill. p. 104 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 250, ill. (color).
Gray, Basil, ed. "The Pictorial Arts in the Timurid Period." In The Cambridge History of Iran. Vol. VI. 1986. ill. pl. 72 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. New York, 2014. p. 292, ill. fol. 568r, full-page color illustration.
Canby, Sheila R. "Five Centuries of Painting." In Persian Masters. Bombay: Marg Publications, 1990. p. 88, ill. fig. 3.
Kossak, Steven M., ed. Indian Court Painting 16th–19th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. p. 11, ill. fig. 5 (color).