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Three figures

Iran, Isfahan (?), second half of the 17th century
Signed: Mushaqahu Muhammad Ali Mosavver
Ink, punched gold, blue washes on paper dusted with gold; paper powdered with gold for the margins
OA 7131: H. 11.8 cm; W. 4.7 cm
OA 7132: H. 11.8 cm; W. 4,5 cm
OA 7133: H. 11.8 cm; W. 4.7 cm
Musée du Louvre, G. Marteau bequest, 1916
OA 7131, 7132, 7133

These three very small drawings are now mounted together, but were originally separate pages which may have come from the same album. Three other drawings of the same size and by the same artist are in the Louvre collections; they formed part of the Georges Marteau Collection which was bequeathed to the museum in 1916.
Each drawing depicts the fanciful figure of a woman who embodies the archetype of beauty in Iran in the second half of the seventeenth century. The background cannot really be defined as landscape, even if it does show a young cup-bearer carrying a gold goblet and a precious bottle. The curve of the woman’s silhouette is taken up by the undulating, wave-like rocky mass against which she stands. These curved silhouettes are characteristic of a style that developed in Isfahan, and which was particularly associated with the painter Reza-e Abbasi.
Muhammad Ali was himself the son of a painter. He is well known for these small ink drawings, only one of which is dated (1067 H/1656-1657).
On all three drawings, the gold vessels and the details of the costumes were drawn very precisely with a point. The paper was primed, then flecked with gold (zarafshan), a technique usually reserved for the decoration of margins, but one that confers a particularly precious quality to these pages.
The clothes worn by the three personages are typical of those in vogue in Iran throughout the seventeenth century. The hat with a turned up rim and trimmed with fur came into fashion during the reign of Shâh Abbâs, but continued to be worn under his successors. The pointed, turn-down collar for men shows the influence of European fashions. The young man wearing a fur-lined coat and a turban is identical to the figure portrayed in a drawing that was recently sold. This last drawing is signed by Muhammad Qasim, a contemporary of Muhammad Ali. Both painters sometimes worked on the same manuscripts, and it is therefore difficult to attribute this small composition to one or the other.

Three figures
Three figures
OA 7131
© RMN / Lewandowski