About this artwork
The setting for the painting is the royal stables in Isfahan. The upper portion of the scene consists of a platform on which are gathered the shah, or Persian king, who appears next to the column on the right; five kneeling courtiers; and various attendants serving fruit and wine. The king is identified in the artist’s signature at the upper left as Shah ‘Abbas II, who died in 1666, but it is possible that the undated painting was executed after his death. The ruler’s status is emphasized by his golden halo and by the opulent gold and jeweled vessels placed before him. The lower portion shows a roundup of horses who bear the trident-like royal brand on their flanks; they move in a spiral that coils counterclockwise from the upper right. The scene bursts with energy and looks chaotic—a brawl is taking place at the lower left—but the courtiers and handlers seem to be getting control of the animals. The figures on the platform, meanwhile, pay no attention to the commotion below.
The painting represents a new journalistic, even anecdotal approach to Persian painting introduced in the second half of the seventeenth century. The viewer gets the sense that the work may record a specific moment in daily life at court and that it was observed firsthand. Figures no longer conform to stock types but are highly individualized by facial features and dress. Standing just to the right of center in the upper part of the roundup scene is a man wearing a gold, fur-lined, armless jacket. He holds a list and is writing notes while conferring with a young man in a blue robe. The man taking notes may well be the supervisor of the royal stud, one of whose responsibilities was to inspect the king’s stables and keep an inventory of the animals.
- 'Aliquli Jabbadar
- Royal Horse Inspection
- Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
- Page: 46.8 × 31.1 cm, Painting: 23.1 × 17 cm (Page: 18 1/2 × 12 1/4 in., Painting: 9 1/8 × 6 11/16 in.)
- Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection