Miniature from volume 4 of a copy of Mustafa al-Darir’s Siyar-i-Nabi (Life of the Prophet). “Ali Beheading Nadr ibn al-Harith in the Presence of the Prophet Muhammad”
Turkey, Istanbul; c. 1594
Miniature: 19.8 × 17.7 cm
Nadr ibn al-Harith had repeatedly mocked the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran, and his execution was consequently completely justified, seen with Muslim eyes. The miniature comes from a six-volume edition of the Life of the Prophet commissioned by Sultan Murad III and made in the court studio in Istanbul.
Ottoman painting had its heyday in the latter half of the 16th century. Its palette was simpler and more straightforward than that of its much-admired models from Iran. There is a detached look about the veiled Prophet and the statue-like bystanders, only one of whom shuts his eyes in horror.
Inv. no. 5/1985
(V. Minorsky: The Chester Beatty Library: a catalogue of the Turkish manuscripts and miniatures, Dublin 1958, pp. 30-40 – about the mss, from which the miniature probably came);
Sotheby’s, London, 15/4-1985, lot 176;
Art from the World of Islam. 8th-18th century, Louisiana, Humlebæk 1987, cat.no. 213;
Kjeld von Folsach: Islamic art. The David Collection, Copenhagen 1990, cat.no. 57;
Kjeld von Folsach, Torben Lundbæk and Peder Mortensen (eds.): Sultan, Shah and Great Mughal: the history and culture of the Islamic world, The National Museum, Copenhagen 1996, cat.no. 44;
Kjeld von Folsach: Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, Copenhagen 2001, cat.no. 85;
Kjeld von Folsach: For the Privileged Few: Islamic Miniature Painting from The David Collection, Louisiana, Humlebæk 2007, cat.no. 60;