Miniature pasted on an album leaf. “Portrait of a Holy Man”
India, Mughal; 1620-1630
Leaf: 36.5 × 23.7 cm
The masterful portrait of an old holy man was probably made by one of Jahangir’s court painters. The man resembles Shaykh Husayn Chishti, head of a Sufi order that enjoyed the Great Mughal’s special favor.
His distinguished face – with bold, hooked nose, wise eyes, and finely delineated beard – bears witness to portraiture’s high level during this period. The old man is simply clad in white, though with a gold-figured sash. On his shoulders is a plain brown shawl that could have been of the finest pashmina wool. What might resemble a pocket watch is undoubtedly a qibla compass, which can give the direction of prayer toward Mecca.
Inv. no. 81/1980
Ivan Stchoukine: “Portraits Mongholp. IV, La Collection du Baron Maurice de Rothschild” in Revue Asiatiques, 9, 1935, cat.no. 6, pl. LXVIII, fig. 4;
[B. W. Robinson et al.]: Persian and Mughal art, Colnaghi, London , cat.no. 116 and p. 213;
Kjeld von Folsach: Islamic art. The David Collection, Copenhagen 1990, cat.no. 49;
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. 279;
Kjeld von Folsach: For the Privileged Few: Islamic Miniature Painting from The David Collection, Louisiana, Humlebæk 2007, cat.no. 104;
Joachim Meyer og Peter Wandel: Sufisme: islams mystiske vej, Davids Samling, København 2011, pp. 20-21;
Kjeld von Folsach, Joachim Meyer: The Human Figure in Islamic Art – Holy Men, Princes, and Commoners, The David Collection, Copenhagen 2017, cat.no. 32;