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King Solomon and His Court

Asian Art

As in the Jewish and Christian traditions, Islam promotes the ancient king Solomon as a model ruler, wise and just. This painting celebrates one element of the considerable lore about Solomon that developed outside of orthodox scriptural accounts: the belief that Solomon’s influence was so great that he was able to rule the kingdoms of animals and angels. Images of Solomon’s court populated by all manner of creatures, celestial beings, and even demons were very popular in the court of the Ottoman rulers of Turkey; this fantastic painting, from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, appears to draw on a Turkish prototype.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
DATES 1875–1900
DIMENSIONS sheet: 19 11/16 x 11 7/8 in. (50.0 x 30.2 cm) image: 11 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (28.9 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS Inscriptions: "Hazrat hanat Sulaiman 'Ali nababan (?) alaihim al-salwat wa al-salam" in Persian in black ink on mount above picture
CREDIT LINE Gift of James S. Hays
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Solomon is seated on a gold bejeweled throne smelling a flower in the midst of all manner of beasts and beings, both real and fantastic. Nearest to the throne rows of angels face Solomon and peacocks fan their tails. In the foreground a turbaned figure, perhaps a saintly donor, is seated in front of his crudely painted servant. Despite the alternately garish and muddy palette, the array of animals enlivens this painting. Depictions of the Court of Solomon enjoyed great popularity in seventeenth-century Ottoman painting. The vogue appears to have spread from Turkey to the Deccan. Inscription: On mount above picture, in Persian, in black ink, in nastaliq script: "Hazrat hanat Sulaiman 'Ali nababan [?] alaihim al-salwat wa al-salam."
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Indian. King Solomon and His Court, 1875–1900. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, sheet: 19 11/16 x 11 7/8 in. (50.0 x 30.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of James S. Hays, 59.205.16 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 59.205.16_IMLS_SL2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 59.205.16_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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