• Persia, Shiraz, Timurid period, 1410-11
  • Ink, watercolour and gold on paper
  • Inv. L.A. 161
  • Eastern Islamic Art

Miniature from the Anthology of Sultan Iskandar

Persia, Shiraz, Timurid period, 1410-11

This manuscript, dedicated to Sultan Iskandar, is unquestionably one of the finest examples of the art of the book from the Timurid period (1378-1506). Iskandar, the grandson of Timur (Tamerlane), was a great patron whose name is associated to some seventy complete or incomplete manuscripts. This anthology is in the early timurid style and consists of poetic texts in the first volume and prose in the second. It includes thirty-eight miniatures and fifteen full-page or half-page decorative illuminations.

The full-page miniature on folio 66v shows Bahram Gur in the Room of the Seven Portraits, an illustration of the fourth poem (Haft Paikar) from Nizami’s work. The poem Haft Paikar (The Seven Portraits or The Seven Beauties) demonstrates the training for an ideal monarch by narrating episodes from the life of a Sassanian king, called Bahram Gur.

The foreground of the miniature that illustrates this poem shows Bahram Gur admiring the seven pavilions, which have vaulted domes. The princesses, each of whom represents one aspect of love, are shown sitting under these domes.


Yates Thompson collection. Baron Edmond de Rothschild collection. A gift from the baron Edmond de Rothschild to Calouste Gulbenkian.

H. 27.4 cm; W. 17.2 cm

Gray 1961

Basil Gray – Les trésors de l’Asie. La peinture Persanne, Genève, Skira, 1961, p. 52-53, 69-72, 79, 96, 101

Ettinghausen 1972

Richard Ettinghausen – Arte da Pérsia Islâmica na Colecção Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 1972, no. 15

London 1976

The Arts of Islam, exhibition catalogue, The Arts Council of Great Britain, London (Hayward Gallery), 1976, p. 337

Hillenbrand 1977

Robert Hillenbrand – Imperial Images in Persian Painting, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh (The Scottish Arts Council), 1977, p. 36, 47, 64, 76-77, 89-90, 92-93

New York 1999

“Only the Best”. Masterpieces of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, exhibition catalogue, Katharine Baetjer e James David Draper (eds.) – New York (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), 1999, p. 70-71, no. 32, colourpl.

Madrid 2001

Un jardín encantado. Arte islámico en la Colección Calouste Gulbenkian, exhibition catalogue, Madrid (Fundación Santander Central Hispano), 2001, p. 78-79, no. 24, colourpl.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Album, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2001, p. 37, no. 20, colourpl.