The planets were perfectly aligned for this painting masterpiece, which justifiably broke the record for a Mughal artwork in France.
India, Mughal art, 1630-31, illustration of Shah Jahan's life, gouache and ink signed Abid and set in Burhanpur with a quatrain by Emad al-Hassani written in calligraphy on the front, 47.5 x 32.3 cm.
The only question remaining a few minutes before this illustration of Shah Jahan (1628-1658) entering his palace in Burhanpur, executed in gouache and ink between 1630 and 1631 came up for sale was how high the bidding would go. The answer was slow in coming because there were so many bidders. Two of them, including a French private collector, competed fiercely until one finally gave up and the hammer fell at €702,000. It was sold to a foreign buyer who wished to give it to a large public collection, the Rietberg Museum in Zurich. This unpublished painting meant to be used in the Padshahnamah, the emperor's official biography, was from the St. Petersburg album. Anne-Sophie Joncoux-Pilorget, the specialist heading the auction house department, says the work meets five key criteria, all of which contributed to its desirability: its state of conservation; its provenance; the calligrapher’s name, Emad al-Hassani (the master of this art under the Safavid dynasty); the signature by Abid, Nadir al-Zaman al-Mashhadi’s brother (often Indian paintings are only attributed); and the royal subject.