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Persian Portrait of a prince examining an arrow (late 16th century-early 17th century)

Portrait of a prince examining an arrow (late 16th century-early 17th century)

This portrait was probably painted during the reign of Shah Abbas (1587–1629), whose rule marked a period of stability and consolidation within the Persian Empire and saw the capital at Isfahan established in 1600.

As well as wall paintings decorating royal palaces and the houses of the rich, paintings on paper were executed as both manuscript illustrations and single paintings. In the latter, artists were less tied by custom and innovations began to appear, including the rendition of large figures of ordinary subjects that fill the page and are set against a plain or lightly sketched background.

The subject of this work, who closely examines an arrow, is dressed in the voluminous, loosely tied turban characteristic of the end of the sixteenth century. His bow is tucked into an abundant sash, and his round face and delicate curls exemplify Persianate beauty.