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)
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
This image from Bijapur made for the last of its rulers, Sikandar, shown here as a young boy soon before the fall of the kingdom 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. Distant views of water hint at Bijapur’s former vastness, which, at its greatest extent, stretched to include Goa on the Arabian Sea. The key of legitimacy is being handed over by Isma’il, founder of the Safavid dynasty of Iran (here erroneously identified as Shah ‘Abbas in a later inscription), to Yusuf, founder of the Bijapur dynasty, symbolizing the unwavering allegiance of the ‘Adil Shahi family to the Shi’ite creed. During its golden period under the free-thinking Ibrahim II (1579–1626, shown third from right), however, Bijapur witnessed an open embrace of Hinduism and Sufism and the formalization in 1583 of Sunnism as the state religion, which lasted until the end of his tenure.
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. 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.
Navina Najat Haidar in [Haidar and Sardar 2015]
1. Baptiste, Fitzroy Andre, John McLeod, and Kenneth X. Robbins. "Africans in the Medieval Deccan", 2006, pp. 30–43, fig. 26.
2. Manucci Album, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, Estampes (Rés. 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).