Amorous Couple

Amorous Couple
(click image to zoom-in)
Painting, Oil on canvas, 131.5x77 cm
Origin: Iran, Early 19th century, Qajar Dynasty

Iranian court artists frequently depicted amorous couples on carpets and cushions during the early years of the 19th century. The embracing figures seem to form a single whole, like the two fruits on a single stem before them. But their idealized and very similar faces are totally without passion and are turned not towards each other but to the viewer. The girl lifts a glass of wine to the lips of her lover, but he seems not to notice. Their distracted gazes are clearly not related to their actions.

The young man to the right with long dark hair, penciled eyes, his hands painted red with henna, is in fact a birish or effeminate young man. Such youths were kept alongside the women in the harems of Iranian rulers.

The painting is perceived as a colourful panel woven with a pattern of the bright fabrics of the clothes, carpets and curtains.

Originally the canvas was hung in a palace interior, and must have hung in a niche with a rounded edge, which determined its original format. Later it was given rectangular form through the addition of corners at the top.

Source of entry: acquired from A. I. Schuster, 1961

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