The Mashhad pilgrim


Artist: Riza Abbasi (ca. 1565-1635)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, 1598
Ink on paper
H x W (overall): 11.7 x 7.1 cm (4 5/8 x 2 13/16 in)
Iran, Mashhad
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


Iran, pilgrimage, portrait, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Mme. Maria Louise Sarre


The spontaneously drawn portrait presents a striking contrast to Riza's highly formal and idealized depiction of Lady with a Fan. A detailed inscription, a feature on many of the artist's single-page compositions, states that, "it [the drawing] was completed at the end of Friday, the 10th of Muharram 1007 [13 August 1598] at the dawlat-khana in the company of friends, especially, Mirza Khawjagi, may God keep him safe. Written by Riza."
Muharram, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, was a popular time for pilgrimages, especially to Mashhad, the burial site of Imam Riza, the eighth Shi`ite imam (prophet). The figure, who has momentarily removed his turban to scratch his head, was probably one of the many pilgrims the artist met during his stay in Mashhad. Keenly observant, Riza Abbasi has masterfully captured his subject's weariness and discomfort, creating one of the most poignant portraits of sixteenth-century Iran.

Published References
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 27, p. 64.
  • Oleg Grabar. Masterpieces of Islamic Art: The Decorated Page from the 8th to the 17th Century., English edition. New York. p. 132, pl. 59.
  • Abolala Soudavar Milo Cleveland Beach. Art of the Persian Court: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection. New York. p. 299.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court. Exh. cat. Washington, 1981. p. 198.
  • Isa Behnam. Dar bare-ye Riza-ye 'Abbasi. vol. 1, no. 3, Spring 1957. pp. 17-22.
  • Lawrence Binyon, J.V.S. Wilkinson, Basil Gray. Persian Miniature Painting: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Miniatures Exhibited at Burlington House, January-March 1931. Exh. cat. Oxford, January - March 1931. cat. 258, pp. 156-158.
  • Sheila R. Canby. The Life and Work of the Painter Riza., microfilm. Cambridge, MA. .
  • Sheila R. Canby Azimuth Editions. The Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi Abbas of Isfahan. London. cat. 26, pp. 183, 54-6,58.
  • Sheila R. Canby. Shah 'Abbas: The Remaking of Iran. Exh. cat. London, February 19 - June 14, 2009. p. 191, fig. 63.
  • Fereshteh Daftari. The Influence of "Persian Art" on Gauguin, Matisse, and Kandinsky. Ann Arbor. p. 275.
  • The Encyclopedia of World Art. 17 vols., New York, 1959-1968. pl. 12.
  • Ulrich Thieme Felix Becker. Kunstlerlexikon. 37 vols., Leipzig, 1907-1950. .
  • Josef von Karabacek. Zur Orientalischen Altertumskunde. Akademie der Wissenschaften.; Philosophisch-Historische Klasse; Sitzungsberichte 7 vols., Wien, 1907-1917. .
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  • Ernst Kuhnel. Eine Austellung Islamischer Buchkunst im Berliner Kunstgewerbe Museum. vol. 8, 1909-1910. pp. 322, 325.
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Han 'Alan und die diplomatischen Beziehungen zwischen Gahangir und Schah' Abbas. vol. 96 Leipzig. pp. 171-186, figs. 1, 7.
  • Richard Ettinghausen Ernst Kuhnel. A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present. 6 vols., London and New York, 1938 - 1939. pp. 1884-5, pl. 924.
  • Ernst Kuhnel. Miniaturmalerei im Islamischen Orient. Die Kunst des Ostens Berlin. pl. 84.
  • Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Persian Art. Exh. cat. London. cat. 672.
  • , Dr. Massumeh Farhad, J.M. Rogers, Marianna Shreve Simpson. Persian Masters: Five Centures of Paintings. Bombay. .
  • Great Drawings of All Time. 4 vols., New York. pl. 873.
  • J.M. Rogers. Islamic Art and Design, 1500-1700. Exh. cat. London. p. 121, fig. 16.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre. Persisch-Islamische Kunst. vol. 2, Berlin. pp. 176-179.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre. Riza Abbasi ein persischer Miniaturmaler. vol. 9 Berlin. pp. 45-53.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre Mme. Maria Sarre. Katalog der Austellung im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut. Frankfurt am Main. cat. 314.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre Eugen Mittwoch. Zu Josef von Karabacek's "Riza-i Abbasi". vol. 2. pp. 196-203.
  • Friedrich Paul Theodor Sarre Eugen Mittwoch. Zeichnungen von Riza Abbasi. Munich. .
  • Laura Schnieder. Landscape in Islamic Art. vol. 7, no. 3, March 1967. pp. 9-16, fig. 2.
  • Eric Schroeder. Persian Miniatures in the Fogg Museum of Art. Cambridge, MA. pp. 116-134.
  • Philipp Walter Schulz. Die Wahrheit uber Riza Abbasi, den Maler. vol. 28. pp. 73-82.
  • F. Taeschner. Darstellungen aus "Leila und Maschnun" unter den Zeichnungen Riza Abbasis. vol. 11. pp. 266-267.
  • Norah M. Titley. Persian Miniature Painting and its Influence on the Art of Turkey and India: The British Library Collections. London. p. 115.
  • Kunstgewerbe Museum. Ausstellung Islamischer Buchkunst. Exh. cat. Berlin. no. 154.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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