Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The House of Bijapur

Artist:
Painting by Kamal Muhammad (active 1680s)
Artist:
Painting by Chand Muhammad (active 1680s)
Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
Date:
ca. 1680
Geography:
Made in India, Deccan, Bijapur
Medium:
Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
Dimensions:
Page: H. 16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm) W. 12 13/16 in. (32.5cm) Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm) W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gifts in memory of Richard Ettinghausen; Schimmel Foundation Inc., Ehsan Yarshater, Karekin Beshir Ltd., Margaret Mushekian, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ablat and Mr. and Mrs. Jerome A. Straka Gifts; The Friends of the Islamic Department Fund; Gifts of Mrs. A. Lincoln Scott and George Blumenthal, Bequests of Florence L. Goldmark, Charles R. Gerth and Millie Bruhl Frederick, and funds from various donors, by exchange; Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art and Rogers Fund, 1982
Accession Number:
1982.213
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
This picture of all nine ‘Adil Shahi sultans was painted for the young man at the right, Sultan Sikandar, the last ruler of the line. Dynastic aspirations linger in the depiction of his forebear Yusuf ‘Adil Shah, who receives a key of legitimacy from Shah Isma’il, the founder of the Safavid dynasty (erroneously identified as Shah ‘Abbas in the inscription). Bijapuri pictures are typically lyrical, but this late work reflects the influence of Mughal naturalism in the sensitive portraits.
This image from Bijapur made for the last of its rulers, Sikandar (reigned 1672–86), shown here as a young boy soon before the kingdom’s fall to Mughal conquerors in 1686, brings together all nine ‘Adil Shahi sultans in a dynastic assembly likely inspired by Mughal paintings illustrating the same idea. The artists Kamal Muhammad and Chand Muhammad here incorporated the characteristic features of the Bijapur school of the period: great shifts of view, varying use of perspective, and a palette rich in a distinctive pink hue. An otherworldly mood is conveyed partly by illogical juxtapositions, such as the stairs leading up to the carpet with no supporting architectural elements or the soaring mountains of Safavid inspiration in the background. Distant views of water hint at Bijapur’s former vastness, which at its greatest extent stretched to include Goa on the Arabian Sea. This painting would have the viewer believe that the key of legitimacy—being handed over by Isma’il (reigned 1501–24), founder of the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722) of Iran (here erroneously identified as Shah ‘Abbas in a later inscription), to Yusuf (reigned 1490–1510), founder of the Bijapur dynasty—symbolizes the unwavering allegiance of the ‘Adil Shahi family to the Shi‘a creed. However, Bijapur in its golden period under the freethinking Ibrahim II (reigned 1580–1627, third from the right) witnessed the open embrace of Hinduism and Sufism as well as the formalization of Sunnism as the state religion in 1583, which lasted until the end of his tenure. Certain historicizing details in the composition acknowledge the two-hundred-year span of the family. The early rulers on the left wear dagger hilts—straight, split-end West Asian and curving double-leaf South Indian — of a style earlier than the punch dagger (katars) in the belts of the later rulers on the right. Local tastes are seen in the swirling blue carpet and flat ceremonial umbrellas also found in early Andhra sculpture. Like many other painters of the Deccan, Kamal Muhammad and Chand Muhammad remain fairly unknown, with very few attested works. [1] Several later versions of the present Bijapur dynastic work, which was formerly in the Kevork Essayan Collection, Paris, are known, including one made for the Italian physician Niccolo Manucci. [2]

Navina Najat Haidar in (Haidar and Sardar, 2015)

Footnotes:

1. Baptiste, Fitzroy Andre, John McLeod, and Kenneth X. Robbins. "Africans in the Medieval Deccan", 2006, pp. 30–43.

2. Manucci Album, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, Estampes (Res. Od 45 pet. fol.); Manucci 1907, vol. 3, pl. XXXIV. The author is grateful to Marta Becherini for her assistance with the Manucci Album. For other later versions of the painting, see Taylor and Fergusson 1866, frontispiece; Strzygowski 1933, pp. 42 – 43, fig. 37 (abbreviated version of the painting now in the Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna); Duda 1983, p. 266, fol. 20, fig. 458; Sotheby’s 1985, lot 71 (copy of ca. 1750).
Signature: In Persian; mid-left edge: "Work of Kamal Muhammad and Chand Muhammad".

Inscription: Inscribed in Persian in naskhi script along upper border:
شاه عباس پادشاه ایران
Shah ‘Abbas King of Iran

Inscribed in Persian in naskhi script vertically near left-hand frame:
عمل کمال محمد و چاند محمد
Work of Kamal Muhammad and Chand Muhammad
Kevork Essayan, Paris(until d. 1980; his estate sale, Nouveau Drouot,Paris, June 24, 1982, lot 67, to John R. Alderman for MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "INDIA !," September 14, 1985, no. 208.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Indian Court Painting," March 25, 1997–July 6, 1997, no. 36.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy," April 20, 2015–July 26, 2015, no. 71.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 40 (1982–1983). pp. 12, 14-15, ill. (color).

"Miniatures Mogholes et Indiennes du XVIe au XIXe Siècle." In Miniatures Orientales. Paris: Nouveau Drouot, Paris, 1982. no. 67, pp. 66-67, ill. fig. 67 (color).

Zebrowski, Mark. Deccani Painting. Berkeley, CA: Sotheby Publications, 1983. no. 118a, pp. 145, 150, ill. pl. XVII (color).

Welch, Stuart Cary. "Art and Culture 1300–1900." In India!. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1985. no. 208, pp. 310-311, ill. p. 311 (b/w).

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 158-159, ill. fig. 121 (color).

Kossak, Steven M., ed. Indian Court Painting 16th–19th century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. no. 36, pp. 68-69, ill. pl. 36 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 269, pp. 341, 380-381, ill. p. 381 (color).

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Symposia." In Sultans of the South: Art of India's Deccan Courts. Brugge, Belgium: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. ill. Front cover.

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "Opulence and Fantasy." In Sultans of Deccan India 1500–1700. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. no. 71, pp. 154-155, ill. pl. 71 (color).



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