© The Aga Khan Museum
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The subject of this single-page drawing—a man sitting in a landscape—was very popular in Iranian art at the turn of the 17th century. The gold dots in the decoration of the turban and on the clothing indicate that this man could be a member of the court. However, the activity he is engaged in has been the subject of scholarly debate. Turned toward the twisted tree, the man, who sports a light moustache and stubble, may be an artist holding a drawing board on his lap. Although he does not hold a pen or brush, similar existing artworks suggest this interpretation. The gesture of his right hand also suggests it.
The Iranian artist Reza-e ‘Abbasi (ca. 1565–1635) and his followers executed a variety of masterpieces on the topic of solitary figures seated in landscapes. This drawing from the Aga Khan Museum Collection has many features of the Isfahan style made famous by Reza-e ‘Abbasi: the two butterflies and two birds, the twisted tree, the small surrounding plants, and the Chinese clouds, as well as the man’s clothes, including his voluminous turban and the shape of the sash (particularly the way it is wrapped and the contours of its edges).
Mu‘in Musavvir, who was trained by Reza-e ‘Abbasi, had a long career and carried Reza-e ‘Abbasi’s artistic ideas and new styles into the 18th century. Mu‘in Musavvir even portrayed his master, ‘Abbasi, painting an idealized European figure. Yet the portrait genre generally involved depicting anonymous courtly figures, as in this drawing.
— Filiz Çakır Phillip
 Princeton University Library, New Jersey, Acc. No. 96G.
Phillip, Filiz Çakır. Enchanted lines: drawings from the Aga Khan Museum collection. 2014. ISBN: 9780991992874
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