Ink, gold, opaque watercolors on paper
Sheet: 17.3 x 40.2 cm (6 13/16 x 15 13/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1944.492
The lion head and phoenix head are part of the foliage, like fantastical blossoms.
In this masterful drawing, a fierce undulating dragon entangled in swirling foliage is under attack from a lion above while assaulting a phoenix whose body dissolves into floral and foliate forms. The lion’s body undergoes a comparable zoomorphic transformation. This drawing represents the finest of the saz style, admired for elaborately curving flowers and leaves that flourished in the mid-1500s. The style was led by the Iranian-trained artist Sahkulu, who joined the Ottoman imperial painting atelier in Istanbul in 1526 and became the head of the atelier in 1545. A verse from the Qur'an, 40:44, is inscribed in the stamp: "And I commit my case unto God."
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