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Afzal

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The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture What is This? Provides in-depth historical and cultural information on over a thousand years of Islamic art and architecture

Afzal

(fl. Isfahan, 1640–51).

Persian illustrator. Active during the reign of the Safavid shah ῾Abbas II (r. 1642–66), Afzal produced manuscript illustrations and single pages for albums in different styles. Most of the 62 paintings he made for the voluminous copy (St. Petersburg, Saltykov-Shchedrin Pub. Lib., Dorn 333) of Firdawi's Shāhnāma (“Book of kings”) presented to the monarch by the head of the royal guard, Murtiza Quli Khan, are scenes of battles and combats in the Metropolitan style that was transferred from Herat to Bukhara (see Illustration, §VI, C). Unlike the tinted drawings of his contemporaries, Afzal's single-page compositions use a rich, somber palette highlighted with gold. Most depict the standard repertory of languid youths and lovers in the style of Riza, but are more erotic. Bishop with a Crosier (Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., M.73.5.456) is the only known Persian portrait of an Armenian religious figure; it shows a broad-faced, sensitively modeled figure similar in style to those in the Shāhnāma illustrations.

Bibliography

  • Enc. Iran.: “Afżal al-Hosaynī”
  • P. Pal, ed.: Islamic Art: The Nasli M. Heeramaneck Collection (Los Angeles, 1974), no. 248
  • M. Farhad: Safavid Single Page Painting, 1628–1666 (diss., Cambridge, MA., Harvard U., 1987), pp. 85–101 and catalogue nos. 1–11
  • Book Arts of Isfahan: Diversity and Identity in Seventeenth- Century Persia (exh. cat. by A. Taylor; Malibu, CA, Getty Mus., 1995), pl. 5
  • S. R. Canby: The Golden Age of Persian Art, 1501–1722 (London, 1999), pp. 138–43, pl. 127
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