When Safavid ruler Shah ‘Abbas I (1587–1629) moved the capital of Persia to Isfahan in 1589, Riza-I ‘Abbasi was his most influential court painter. Riza created a style that relied on a calligraphic line and an original sense of color. His album pages reflect the shah’s and the public’s taste for intimate works. They mirror the luxurious taste of the Safavid court with its fondness for elaborate textiles, Chinese porcelain, and exotic garments.
Artist Riza-i 'Abbasi, Persian, ca. 1560 - 1635
  • Young Portugese Man
Date 1634
Medium Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Dimensions Overall: 5 3/4 × 7 1/2 inches (14.6 × 19.1 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Robert H. Tannahill in memory of Dr. William R. Valentiner
Accession Number 58.334
Department Islamic Art
Not On View
Signed Signed and dated, lower right, part of inscription: [translated: Tuesday, 22 Ramadan 1043 | Riza-i 'Abbasi]
Inscriptions Inscribed, mid-lower right: [translated: Completed on Tuesday, 22 Ramadan 1043 for [...]. Love compels me to run bare-foot and -headed in that alley [of desire] like [those] foreign slaves (¦ghulaman-i farangi¦). Work of the humble Riza-i 'Abbasi.] [date: March 22 1634]
Dr. William R. Valentiner.
Robert H. Tannahill [1893-1969];
1958-present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 22, no. 1 (1942): p. 3, (ill.) p. 5.

Woven Treasures of Persian Art. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum. California, April-May 1959, no. 153.

DIA Handbook. 1971, p. 66.

"Family Art Game," Detroit Free Press (May 18, 1986): p. 7 (ill.). [DIA Advertising Supplement].

Sakisian, Armenag Bey. La Miniature Persane du XIIe au XVIIe siècle. Paris, Brussels, 1929, p. 138, pl. XCIX, (fig. 178).

Ettinghausen, Richard. "Riza." In Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildende Kunstler, Thieme-Becker, ed., Leipzig, 1934, p. 406, no. 24.

Hall, Helen B. "Exhibition of Islamic Art, San Francisco," Ars Islamica, vol. IV (1937): p. 493.

Denike, B. Zhivopis Irana. Moscow, 1938, (fig. 47).

Kühnel, Ernst. "History of Miniature Painting and Drawing." In Survey of Persian Art, vol. III, Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, eds. London, New York, 1939, p. 1887.

Weibel, Adele. "A Riza-i Abbasi Silk," Bulletin of the DIA 22 (October 1942): (fig. 2), [reads the date as 19 March.]

Stchoukine, Ivan. Les Peintures des Manuscrits de Shah 'Abbas Ier à la Fin des Safavis. Paris, 1964, pp. 109-10, p. 115, [interprets the date as 21 April.]

Canby, Sheila R. The Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi Abbasi of Isfahan. London, 1996, cat. no. 128, p. 175 (ill.), pp. 174-176, p. 174 [author identifies this painting as Riza's last dated work], p. 176 [points to the blue-and-white jug and the decorated pillows as possibly combining to form a pun whose meaning is not obvious. The inscription "provides a rare insight into the personal life of the patron, or even of Riza himself". Perhaps the sentiment is Riza's, to someone dear to him or, if the patron was the European and unable to read the poem, it may have been written to make fun of him for his "high opinion of himself". The author continues that if the painting is in the spirit of caricature, the European caught in a silly action, despite the amourous poem, it combines "both humour and multiple levels of meaning" with techniques developed over a career of twenty years. "This painting marks a fitting close to Riza's long, productive career"], p. 176.

Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 128 (ill.).

Grabar, Oleg and Cynthia Robinson, eds. Islamic Art and Literature. Princeton, New Jersey, 2001, [used as cover of book but reversed and very dark].