"Zahhak is Told His Fate", Folio 29v from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp
Abu'l Qasim Firdausi (935–1020)
Painting attributed to Sultan Muhammad (active first half 16th century)
Folio from an illustrated manuscript
Made in Iran, Tabriz
Opaque watercolor, ink, silver, and gold on paper
Painting: H. 7 3/8 in. (18.7 cm)
W. 12 15/16 in. (32.9 cm)
Page: H. 12 9/16 in. (31.9 cm)
W. 18 1/2 in. (47 cm)
Mat: H. 22 in. (55.9 cm)
W. 16 in. (40.6 cm)
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton Jr., 1970
Not on view
The evil king Zahhak faints when his wise men reveal the meaning of his nightmare: that one Faridun, as yet unborn, will justly bring about his downfall and death. The logical disposition of figures in space reflects the influence of the late Timurid Herat School of painting, whereas the bending rosebush and snail-like clouds at the right derive from Turkmen painting as practiced at Tabriz. The animated characterizations, however, are typical of the work of Sultan Muhammad, head of the royal workshop.
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)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A King's Book of Kings: Persian Miniatures from Shah Tahmasp's Shahnama of 1528," May 4, 1972–December 31, 1972, no catalog.
Bordeaux. Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux. "Profile of The Metropolitan Museum of Art: From Ramesses to Picasso," May 15, 1981–September 1, 1981, no catalogue.
Levy, Ruben, ed. The Epic of the Kings : Shah-nama, the National Epic of Persia, by Ferdowski. UNESCO collection of representative works: Persian heritage series; [no. 3]. London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1967. p. 17.
Welch, Stuart Cary. A King's Book of Kings: the Shah-nameh of Shah Tahmasp. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972. pp. 104-107, ill. pp. 105-107, folio 29v (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. 16 (b/w).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Persian Book of Kings." In The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Madrid, 2011. p. 36, ill. (color), folio 23v.
Canby, Sheila R. The Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp: The Persian Book of Kings. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014. p. 78, ill. fol. 29v (color).