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Ilkhanid Illustration
Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama
Chapter 21 - The Ashkanians (200 years).
Ardavan led captive before Ardashir
Tabriz, Persia, c.1330-1340AD

A larger image of 'Ardavan led captive before Ardashir'. Great Mongol (Demotte) Shahnama. Tabriz, Persia, c.1330-1340. Ilkhanid Illustration. Sackler Gallery S1986.103.

Folio from a Shahnama (Book of kings) by Firdawsi (d.1020); verso: Ardashir captures Ardavan; verso: text: Kavus journey to Barbaristan
HISTORICAL PERIOD: Il-Khanid dynasty, ca. 1330-1340
MEDIUM: Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper
DIMENSIONS: H x W: 59.2 x 39.7 cm (23 5/16 x 15 5/8 in)
GEOGRAPHY: Iran, Tabriz
CREDIT LINE: Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
COLLECTION: Henri Vever collection
PROVENANCE To 1913: Georges Demotte (1877-1923), Paris, France. [1]
From 1913 to 1942: Henri Vever (1854-1942), Paris and Noyers, France, purchased from Georges Demotte, Paris, France on June 1913. [2]
From 1942 to 1986: Family member, Paris and Boulogne, France, by inheritance from Henri Vever, Paris and Noyers, France. [3]
From 1986: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from a family member, Paris and Boulogne, France. [4]
[1] See Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 7: Chart of Recent Provenance" in An Annotated and Illustrated Checklist of the Vever Collection, Glenn D. Lowry et al (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 401. See also Glen D. Lowry and Susan Nemazee, "Appendix 2: Ledger of Acquisitions, 1894 and 1907-17" in A Jeweler’s Eye: Islamic Arts of the Book from the Vever Collection (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1988), p. 234.
[2] See note 1.
[3] See the Agreement for the Purchase and Sale of the Henri Vever Collection of January 9, 1986, Collections Management Office.
[4] See note 3.

Francois Mautin French, born 1907
Henri Vever 1854 - 1942
Georges Demotte 1877 - 1923

In the Shahnama (Book of Kings) by Firdawsi (d. 1020), the story of Ardavan, the last Parthian king (reigned 247–224 B.C.E.) and Ardashir, the founder of the Sasanian dynasty (224–651), exemplifies the triumph of justice. According to Firdawsi, when Ardavan hears about Ardashir's prowess, he invites Ardashir to hunt with his son. Ardashir's superior hunting skill so angers Ardavan that he challenges Ardashir to battle.

Forty days into the feud, one of Ardashir's men finally succeeds in taking Ardavan prisoner. Wounded and exhausted, the king is brought before the youthful Ardashir. This illustration is particularly notable for its deep pathos, which reverberates throughout the composition, from Ardavan's slumped shoulders and downcast eyes to the dry, twisting branches of the tree behind him. The use of certain pictorial conventions, such as cutting figures off at the margins or placing a figure in the center of the foreground with his back to the viewer, further heighten the composition's sense of visual drama. These new compositional devices were inspired by Chinese imagery found in paintings, on textiles, and other luxury items, which the Ilkhanids imported to Iran.
Source: Sackler Gallery

54     Fig. 163
Ardavan Captured by Ardashir
Image: 19.4 x 28.7 cm (7⅝ x 11¼ in.)
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.;
Purchase, Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds, Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler

Ardavan, learning of Bahman’s defeat and flight, marched upon Ardashir himself. The two fought intensely for forty days until Ardavan was wounded and taken captive. He was brought before Ardashir, who ordered the prisoner to be cleaved in two.
    Pictured here is the moment when the defeated Ardavan stands before Ardashir and hears of his impending death.1 The composition is divided by the central figure in the foreground: a Mongol soldier seen from the back. His feet and mace extend beyond the border, a pictorial device often seen in the illustrations of the jami‘ al-tavarikh (cat. nos. 6, 7). It serves to focus the viewer’s attention and to emphasize the dramatic intensity of the scene.

1. Grabar and Blair 1980, pp. 140—41, no. 42; Lowry 1988, pp. 88-89, no. 13; Bloom and Blair 1997, no. 105.
Source: p.257, The Legacy of Genghis Khan Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia 1256-1353

Washington DC, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Title of Work: Shahnama (Great Mongol)
Manuscript: S1986.100-107
Accession Number: S1986.103
Chapter 21 - The Ashkanians (200 years)
Scene: Ardavan led captive before Ardashir
Dimensions (h x w): 200 x 290 mm
Format: Rectangular within borders
Reconstructed Folio: 181v
Gregorian Date: 1335 (circa)
School: Tabriz
Source: Shahnama Project

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