Edited by David J. Roxburgh
244 pages, 9 3/4 x 14 1/2 in.
237 color illustrations
Hardcover (paper over board)
Published by the Harvard Art Museums
Distributed by Yale University Press
Winner, 2018 First Place (Exhibition Catalogues), New England Museum Association
An in-depth examination that not only beautifully illustrates the remarkable collection of nearly 150 works in the album, but also sheds new light on artistic practices and processes from Iran’s Qajar dynasty
Harvard’s Qajar Album—57 folios, with nearly 150 drawings, paintings, prints, and embossed works—is a remarkably wide-ranging collection of human, animal, and floral studies; narrative compositions inspired by Persian classic literature and historical subjects; religious themes; and portraits of rulers and heroes. Because these types of works were originally created as technical materials for artists to use in their daily work, most have been lost over time as a result of repeated use and subsequent damage or disposal. This publication offers a rare opportunity not only to appreciate the ingenuity of the individual works, but also to gain a better understanding of the entire system of artistic production and exchange in 19th-century Iran.
The book unites 12 essays with a beautiful full-size facsimile of the complete album. From the necessarily global story of how the album came to be housed at the Harvard Art Museums—spanning Iran, Germany, England, and the United States—to the in-depth examination of individual themes and techniques, the publication exposes a rich network of artistic influence, exchange, and innovation. In doing so, it calls on us to question what has been left out of the dominant histories of art and to consider possible alternative definitions of what can be thought of as “modern.”
The related exhibition, Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, is on view at the Harvard Art Museums from August 26, 2017 through January 7, 2018.
David J. Roxburgh is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History and Chair of the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University.
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