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A mendicant bowing before a holy man, from the Prince Salim Album

June 30, 1556
Akbar 1556–1605




A mendicant bowing before a holy man, from the Prince Salim Album c. 1585; inner border added in Allahabad c. 1602; outer border added probably 1900s Basavana (Indian, active c. 1560–1600) India, Mughal, 16th century Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper Page: 32.7 x 21.1 cm (12 7/8 x 8 5/16 in.); Painting: 13.6 x 7.5 cm (5 3/8 x 2 15/16 in.) Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.296 DID YOU KNOW? The dog stares hungrily at the mendicant’s alms bowl, with the artist’s signature. DESCRIPTION This finished painting, made to look like a tinted drawing, depicts two holy men in the wilderness. The Sufi mystic holding a book and a rosary, and wearing a coarse blue garment, receives an ascetic who has laid down his bowl, bag, and staff to touch the mystic’s feet with his brow in a sign of total devotion. The verse at the top is a well-known quotation from a lyrical poem by the celebrated Persian poet Hafiz: I have fallen at his feet, grieving and wailing. Could it be that I might receive a helping hand? The depth of character in the expressions and gestures along with the masterful use of soft brushwork and shading are hallmarks of Akbar’s leading Mughal artist, Basavana. Paintings of this type that Prince Salim selected for his album frequently featured character studies of holy men, and they were given the distinctive border with gold rosettes and lozenges. INSCRIPTION Persian inscription on mendicant’s bowl, in nasta‘liq script: the work of Basavana INSCRIPTION Persian verse at top from a ghazal (lyrical poem) of Hafiz (Persian, 1325–1389), in nasta‘liq script: I have fallen at his feet, grieving and wailing. Could it be that I might receive a helping hand? HIDEPROVENANCE Dikran Kelekian (1868–1951), New York mid-1900s until May 1967 EXHIBITION HISTORY "Indian Drawing," Hayward Gallery, London; Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry; Bolton Museum of Art Gallery; Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield (1983). Main Asian Rotation (Gallery 245); July 2, 2014 - January 5, 2015. The Cleveland Museum of Art (7/31/2016-10/23/2016); Art and Stories from Mughal India, cat. 10, p. 197. Art and Stories from Mughal India. The Cleveland Museum of Art (organizer) (July 31-October 23, 2016).

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Ismail Mazari

average rating is null out of 5

Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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