Ulugh Beg with ladies of his harem and retainers


Historical period(s)
Timurid period, 1425-1450
Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper
H x W: 31.7 x 24.1 cm (12 1/2 x 9 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


court, harem, Timurid period (1378 - 1506), Uzbekistan, WWII-era provenance

To 1946
Jacob Acheroff, Paris, France. [1]

From 1946
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Jacob Acheroff, Paris. [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Jacob Acheroff


The right half of a double- page frontispiece, this remarkable painting depicts Ulugh Beg (1393-1449), a grandson of Timur (Tamerlane), the founder of the powerful Timurid dyansty of Iran and central Asia (1370-1506). An accomplished bibliophile, historian, mathematician, and above all, an astronomer, Ulugh Beg built a celebrated observatory in Samarqand. In this painting, he is shown in a ceremonial courtly setting, which often was held in the open air. While the composition conforms to the norms of Timurid pictorial style, with its emphasis on idealized figural types, two-dimensional spaces, and finely painted surfaces, the bold, saturated colors are unusal and may be a particular feature of fifteenth-century painting from Samarqand.

Published References
  • Thomas W. Lentz Glenn D. Lowry. Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century. Exh. cat. Los Angeles. p. 90, fig. 33.
  • Art et Societe dans le Monde Iranien. Bibliotheque Iranienne, no. 26 Paris. pp. 41-42, fig. 19.
  • M.M. Ashrafi. Where was the Portrait of Ulugh Beg Painted. no. 21. p. 24030.
  • The Book of Travels: Genre, Ethnology, and Pilgrimage, 1250-1700. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions Leiden. p. 140, fig. 3.4.
  • Andrew Topsfield. Ketelaar’s Embassy and the Farangi Theme in the Art of Udaipur. vol. XXX no. 5. pp. 186-187, fig. 12.
  • B. W. Robinson. Fifteenth-Century Persian Painting: Problems and Issues. Hagop Kevorkian Series on Near Eastern Art and Civilization New York. pp. 49-50, fig. 15.
  • B. W. Robinson. Islamic Painting and the Arts of the Book. London. p. 150.
  • B. W. Robinson. Persian Painting and the National Epic. Annual Lecture on Aspects of Art, Henriette Hertz Trust of the British Academy London. cat. 3, p. 290.
  • Qajar Iran: Political, Social, and Cultural Change, 1800-1925. Edinburgh. p. 293.
  • Frederique Beaupertuis-Bressand Eleanor Sims. Ulug Beg: Le Prince Astronome. Paris. pp. 44-45.
  • Smithsonian Institution. Report of the Secretary, 1946-1947. Washington. p. 46, pl. 1.
  • Abolala Soudavar Milo Cleveland Beach. Art of the Persian Court: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection. New York. p. 70.
  • Julia Bailey. Carpets and Textiles in the Iranian World 1400-1700: Proceedings of the Conference held at the Ashmolean Museum on 30-31 August 2003. Oxford and Genoa. p. 18, fig. 1.
  • Barbara Brend. A Carpet and Related Pictures--A Legacy of Timur's Samarqand? vol. 30, no. 2. p. 187, fig. 12.
  • Abu'l-Husayn Abdu'r-Rahman As-Sufi. Suwaru'l-Kawakib. Hyderabad, India. front.
  • I.N. Khan Arshi. Black Taj Mahal: The Emperor's Missing Tomb. New Delhi. .
  • Jeremy Tredinnick. An Illustrated History of Kazakhstan. .
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum