Reclining Nude

Artist: Signed by Riza Abbasi (ca. 1565-1635)
Historical period(s)
Safavid period, Reign of Shah Abbas, ca. 1590
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
H x W (painting): 9.2 × 16.7 cm (3 5/8 × 6 9/16 in)
Iran, Isfahan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Album leaf with painting

Iran, nasta'liq script, Safavid period (1501 - 1722), writing
Provenance research underway.

Riza Abbasi, one of the most celebrated Persian painters, was active during the reign of Shah Abbas I (reigned 1589-1629), the powerful ruler and patron of the arts. He was particularly celebrated for his idealized images of young men and women and Reclining Nude represents one of the artist's most sensuous and daring subjects. Prior to the sixteenth century, female nudes were occasionally represented in Persian painting but only as part of a cycle of illustration in a manuscript.

Riza's departure from accepted Persian pictorial themes may have been inspired by European sources, which had become increasingly available in Iran during Shah Abbas' rule. Instead of simply copying a European model, however, Riza's mastery of line and color has transformed and "persianized" the composition into one of the most evocative paintings of the late sixteenth century.  

Published References
  • Sheila R. Canby, Azimuth Editions. The Rebellious Reformer: The Drawings and Paintings of Riza-yi Abbas of Isfahan. London. cat. 7, pp. 31-32, 180.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. The Brush of the Masters: Drawings from Iran and India. Exh. cat. Washington, 1978. cat. 19B, p. 56.
  • Sheila R. Canby. The Life and Work of the Painter Riza. Cambridge, Massachusetts. cat. 7, pp. 60-64.
  • , Massumeh Farhad, J.M. Rogers, Marianna Shreve Simpson. Persian Masters: Five Centuries of Paintings. Bombay. p. 73, fig. 2.
  • Orient: Mille ans de poesie et de peinture., La petite collection. p. 180.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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