Lovers and beloveds: A composite of scenes from Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit literature

Lovers and beloveds: A composite of scenes from Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit literature

c. 1735

Chitarman II

(Indian, c. 1680–с. 1750)

Opaque watercolor with gold on paper

Painting: 41.2 x 29.6 cm (16 1/4 x 11 5/8 in.)

Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.345


Did you know?

Below the bearded poet Hafiz is the woman he loved; her name was Stick of Candy.


The figure of Joseph, identified by his halo, sits in the center near the top of this painting of heroes and heroines of ten different Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit romances. The depicted scene occurs after Joseph has been purchased by Zulaykha in Egypt. Zulaykha, wishing to show him off to her friends and acquaintances, invites them to her home where she supplies oranges and knives. When the women see Joseph, they all are so distracted by his divine beauty that they accidentally cut their hands while peeling their oranges, but remain mesmerized by his appearance. The dramatic scene in the center is from the Persian romance of Khusrau and Shirin, in which Farhad, a stonecutter who loved Shirin, threw himself to his death from a mountaintop after hearing news of Shirin’s death, falsely sent to him from his rival Khusrau. The emaciated Majnun is in the lower right corner. Every vignette has been identified with a tiny Persian inscription.

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