Object of the Day # 4

Hyun Woo Cho

29 October 2018

The object that I chose is The “Court of Gayumars” painted by Sultan Muhammad. The painting was made in circa 1525 to 1535 using ink, pigments, and gold on paper. The painting is 12 1/2 inches wide and 18 1/2 inches tall. The painting is one of the paintings in the book Shahnama of Shah Tahmasp. Shah Tahmasp is the son and successor of Shah Isma’il who was commissioned from the Safavid royal workshop to make a copy of Shahnama (“Books of Kings”) which is “Firdawsi’s poetic history of Persian rulers written in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries” (Stokstad 2018, 293). The book consists of 742 folios and “258 full-page pictures [that] highlight the important kings and heroes of Persian royal history” painted by several artists in the 1520s and 1530s (Stokstad 2018, 294). The painting consists of a pictorial frame that is leaned toward the left bottom side. On the top and bottom in the frame, there are writings in Arabic. In the middle, the artist portrayed the landscape of the court of Gayumars who was the first shah. Gayumars is solely positioned on the upper part of the painting to suggest his elevated status and he is surrounded by his family members and lavish trees and plants. The figures are portrayed with a lot of delicate details that make them realistic. One of the distinctive feature of the painting is the rendering of rocks which are portrayed as if they are melting. The landscape is mostly painted in blue colors with some parts painted in purple, orange, and green tone colors. Even though the figures and plants are rendered realistically, the idiosyncratic composition of the painting makes the painting surrealistic and flat. The background of the painting is colored in off white with speckled gold patterns. The reason I chose this painting was the unusual painting style and the composition. When I first saw this painting, I thought it was an East Asian painting due to the understated and linear painting style that the artist use to depict the figures. Moreover, I found it intriguing and unusual that there is a frame inside the painting and some parts are sticking out from the frame. The question for class discussion is why the artist put a frame in the painting and why the frame is positioned towards the left, not in the center.

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