Ink and color on paper; 17 x 21 1/2 in. (43 x 54.5 cm)
Purchase, Elizabeth Ettinghausen Gift, in memory in Richard Ettinghausen, 1993 (1993.98)
In this drawing, a rich assemblage of birds gather in the branches of a blossoming tree and a pair of partridges stand on the mound of earth below. The drawing is executed in an exacting pointillist technique in shades of gray; the reddish brown wash over the tree trunk adds a hint of warmth. The gul-o-bul-bul, or rose and nightingale, motif was employed in both Persian literature and painting. In poetry, the two stood in for the beloved and the loved, entwined in either an earthly or divine union. In art, the motif appeared on all types of objects, and during the Qajar period proliferated to the extent that it came practically to symbolize the country itself. It became especially popular among European collectors, who demanded goods and albums decorated with this motif. Shiraz, where this drawing might have been made, was an important center for the production of architectural tiles in this genre as well.