Babur the Connoisseur

Timurid nobles displayed their sophistication by commenting on painting, calligraphy, and poetry. This literary anthology opens with a painting by the renowned fifteenth-century Persian artist Bihzad. The painter, who achieved legendary acclaim, worked at the court of Babur’s ancestors in Herat. Babur praised Bihzad’s delicate style, but—with his customary frankness—said that the artist drew chins too large. While his observations may seem casual or even disrespectful, they were part of interacting with and appreciating a luxury manuscript.

An old man and a youth in a mountain landscape
Folio from an Anthology
Ascribed to Bihzad (ca. 1467–1535)
Historic Iran, present-day Afghanistan, Herat, 1524–1525 (AH 930)
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
Purchase—Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art