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Article

Eleanor Sims

[Shaykh ‛Abbāsī]

(fl 1650–84).

Persian painter. He was one of a small group of artists working in Iran in the second half of the 17th century who painted in an eclectic manner that drew on European images and Mughal Indian styles (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). He appears to have been the earliest of this group, which included Muhammad Zaman and ‛Aliquli Jabbadar, to integrate these ‘exotic’ elements into his work. He invariably inscribed his work with the punning Persian phrase Bahā girift chū gardīd Shaykh ‛Abbāsī (‘It [He] acquired worth when he became Shaykh ‛Abbasi’). The honorific it contains (‛Abbasi; also a type of coin, whence the pun) suggests that he was in the service of Shah ‛Abbas II (reg 1642–66). He also signed paintings during the reign of Shah Sulayman (reg 1666–94).

Shaykh ‛Abbasi illustrated manuscripts and painted miniatures on single leaves of paper and, almost certainly, on lacquered papier-mâché objects, such as penboxes and mirror cases. More than 15 of his known paintings are signed, 8 in one manuscript (Baltimore, MD, Walters A. Mus., MS. W.668), and 25 can be attributed to him. His subjects include portraits of Safavid and Mughal rulers and of the Virgin and Child copied from European prints. His style is unmistakable, combining sure draughtsmanship with pale, transparent colour washes. Unlike Muhammad Zaman, he had a minimal interest in illusionism, restricting himself to darkening the edges of trees and buildings along one side (usually the right). His figures, especially heads and faces, are Indian in appearance as well as in the stippled manner in which they are drawn. His later pictures seem more Indian than his earlier work; Zebrowski proposed a connection with Golconda painting (...

Article

Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

(b Kishorganj, East Pakistan [now Bangladesh], Nov 18, 1914; d Dhaka, May 28, 1976).

Bangladeshi painter and printmaker. He studied painting at the Government School of Art in Calcutta from 1933 to 1938, and then taught there until 1947. His work first attracted public attention in 1943 when he produced a powerful series of drawings of the Bengal famine. After the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 he worked as chief designer in the Pakistan government’s Information and Publications Division, and also became principal of the Institute of Fine Arts in Dhaka (later known as the Bangladesh College of Arts and Crafts), which he helped to found in 1948 and where he remained until 1967. From 1951 to 1952 he visited Europe and, in addition to exhibiting his work at several locations, worked at the Slade School of Art in London, and represented Pakistan at the UNESCO art conference in Venice in 1952. An exhibition of his work in Lahore in 1953 became the starting-point for a series of ...

Article

‛Abid  

Jeffrey A. Hughes

[‛Ābid]

(fl c. 1615–58).

Indian miniature painter, son of Aqa Riza and brother of Abu’l-Hasan. Both his father and his brother worked for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27). Although ‛Abid probably began working in the royal atelier c. 1615, all of his known signed works are datable to the reign of Shah Jahan (reg 1628–58). His style varied somewhat from that of his celebrated older brother, but ‛Abid’s work also stayed within the strict formalism of the Persian-derived courtly concerns for symmetry, technical perfection and minute detail. Within these constraints, ‛Abid’s portraits of court figures are injected with an animation that creates characterization of individual personalities and intensifies the narrative. ‛Abid was an accomplished colourist, whose vivid use of colour seems to contrast with the realism of his subjects, primarily battle and court scenes. His known paintings are relatively few; most are from the Padshāhnāma of c. 1636–58 (Windsor Castle, Royal Lib., MS. HB.149, fols 94...

Article

J. P. Losty

(b 1588; fl 1600–30).

Indian painter.

In 1618 the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27) wrote in his memoirs that Abu’l-Hasan’s ‘work was perfect…At the present time he has no rival or equal… Truly he has become Nadir al-Zaman (“Wonder of the age”)’. Some of this artist’s paintings are among the greatest in Mughal art. He was born in Jahangir’s household in 1588, the son of the erstwhile Safavid artist Aqa Riza. Abu’l-Hasan’s earliest known work, a drawing based on Albrecht Dürer’s St John and executed when he was only 12 (Oxford, Ashmolean), already shows in its naturalism the trend of his mature work. A single painting in a manuscript of the fable-book Anvār-i Suhaylī (‘Lights of Canopus’), probably done in 1604 (London, BL, Add. MS. 18579), develops the naturalism of his portraiture but still contains a Safavid landscape based on his father’s work; his sense of respect for the latter is indicated by his signing himself here ‘the dust of Riza’s threshold’. He maintained throughout his career the meticulous finish of the Safavid style (...

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S. J. Vernoit

[Abū’l-Qāsim]

(fl c. 1816).

Persian painter. His only known work is a long composition depicting the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) entertained by female musicians and dancers. The only surviving fragments of it are a painting of the shah (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.) and three paintings of the entertainers (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus., ex-Amery priv. col.). The paintings of a woman playing a drum and of a woman playing a stringed instrument are signed raqam-i kamtarīn Abū’l-Qāsim (‘painted by the most humble Abu’l-Qasim’) and dated 1816, but the third painting showing a woman dancing is half-length and damaged. All the fragments share the same continuous architectural background and scale (a little less than life-size). Robinson has suggested that this mural might be the one described in the mid-19th century by the traveller Robert Binning, who reported that the house he occupied in Shiraz contained a painting of Fath ‛Ali Shah seated in state attended by ten women. The composition extended around three sides of the room and the figures were almost life-size. This identification suggests that Abu’l-Qasim might have been a native of Shiraz....

Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

Article

[Muḥammad Ḥasan Khān Afshār]

(fl c. 1835–1865).

Persian painter. A noted court painter and portraitist under the Qajar rulers Muhammad Shah (reg 1834–48) and Nasir al-Din (reg 1848–96), Muhammad Hasan Afshar was awarded the title Painter Laureate (Pers. naqqāsh bāshī). A portrait dated 1847 in the Churchill Album (London, BL, Or. MS. 4938) depicts Muhammad Shah seated in a red tunic with blue sash and flashing diamonds. The artist’s most remarkable works are three life-size oil portraits of Nasir al-Din (Tehran, Gulistan Pal.; Tehran, Moghaddam priv. col. (see Robinson, 1991, fig.); and Isfahan, Chihil Sutun Palace, dated 1860). The artist also painted small varnished objects, such as a penbox dated 1846 (priv. col., see Robinson, 1989, fig.), which has a scene of the Last Judgement on the top and a Napoleonic battle scene on one side. The penbox was only finished in 1861 by Isma‛il Jalayir, who added a scene of the Qajar monarch Muhammad Shah in battle on the other side and a design and inscription on the base. Other members of the Afshar family also painted similar objects, such as another penbox with a scene of the Last Judgement (Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., 73.5.159)....

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Faisalabad, 1922).

Pakistani painter. She introduced non-traditional pictorial imagery in Pakistan and initiated a new era in painting. She completed a degree in political science at Kinnaird College, Lahore. Her introverted disposition and concentrated study of philosophy formed the background against which her abstract ‘idea’ paintings emerged. At the Lahore School of Fine Art (1945), Agha began a study of Western art. In addition to copying Old Masters, she came into contact with contemporary Indian painting and folk art.

Mario Perlingieri, an Italian painter who had studied with Picasso, introduced Agha to abstraction in 1946. Unlike the majority of Pakistani artists in the 1950s and 1960s, who emulated Cubism (see Cubism, §I), Agha evolved a personal style synthesizing East and West. Four years in London and Paris (1950–53) brought her face to face with modern European art. Agha’s predilection for discordant shapes, tension, and mysterious and irrational juxtapositions link her art to that of Marc Chagall and Edvard Munch. An intensely private and cerebral individual, she was awarded the President’s Medal for Pride of Performance in ...

Article

Ahmad  

[Aḥmad]

(fl 1815–50).

Persian painter. He specialized in oil portraits of the Qajar rulers Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) and Muhammad (reg 1834–48). To judge from Ahmad’s style, he was a pupil of Mihr ‛Ali (see islamic art, §viii, 11(i)). His early works include two portraits of Fath ‛Ali Shah. One dated 1818–19 (untraced) shows the Shah, whose face has been repainted, in full armour seated on the chair-like throne known as the takht-i nādirī and part of the Iranian Crown Jewels. A second portrait dated 1822–3 (Tehran, Brit. Embassy) shows the ruler seated on a jewelled carpet with a hooka at his side. Ahmad’s later work is more Europeanized in style. A large painting dated 1844 (Tehran, Gulistan Pal. Lib.) depicts Muhammad reviewing his troops, and another oil dated 1846 (Tehran, Firuz priv. col.) is a fine bust portrait of the monarch. Two paintings of female acrobats have also been attributed to his hand on the basis of the bold palette, bravura treatment of pattern and use of white to delineate eyelids and forehead....

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Delhi, India, Feb 4, 1941; d Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 18, 1999).

Pakistani painter, sculptor and printmaker. Educated in Pakistan and abroad, he has consciously and successfully synthesized Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. In 1963, a year after graduating from the National College of Arts, Lahore, he joined the faculty as a lecturer in art, later becoming a professor and head of the Department of Fine Arts. His studies abroad have included post-graduate work in London (1966–7, 1968–9) and the United States (1987–9).

Like many of his colleagues, Zahoor was influenced by his mentor, Shakir ‛Ali, principal of the National College of Art from 1961 to 1975. Both artists were motivated by art history, philosophy and aesthetics. Zahoor’s non-figurative paintings of the 1960s evolved into tangible—though not always realistic—images addressing the dualities of space and time, East and West. Most of his triptychs and single canvases were conceived within a grid that provides a stabilizing structure for their compositions. This grid refers to Zahoor’s admiration for the American artist ...

Article

[Khwāja ‛Abd al-Ḥayy]

(fl c. 1374; d Samarkand, 1405).

Illustrator and painter. According to the Safavid chronicler Dust Muhammad, ‛Abd al-Hayy trained under Shams al-Din at Baghdad during the reign of the Jalayirid sultan Uways I (reg 1356–74) and became the leading painter under his son Ahmad (reg 1382–1410), who was also ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil. When Timur took Baghdad, ‛Abd al-Hayy was sent to Samarkand, either in 1393 or in 1401, where he spent the rest of his life. He seems to have specialized in monochrome ink drawings: Dust Muhammad recorded that ‛Abd al-Hayy’s pupil, Ahmad Jalayir, contributed a black-and-white drawing to a manuscript of the Abūsa‛īdnāma (‘Book of Abu Sa‛id’), and a number of examples attributed to the late 14th century and preserved in various albums (e.g. Berlin, Staatsbib. Preuss. Kultbes., Orientabt. Diez A. 70–73) bear the notation that they were copied from ‛Abd al-Hayy’s drawings by Muhammad ibn Mahmud Shah Khayyam. In his album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. ...

Article

Milo Cleveland Beach and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[(Khwāja) ‛Abd al-Ṣamad; ‛Abd as-Ṣamad; Abdus Ṣamad]

(fl c. 1540–95).

Iranian miniature painter and calligrapher, active also in India. Trained in Safavid Iran, ‛Abd al-Samad migrated to India, where he became director of the Mughal painting workshops under the emperor Akbar (reg 1556–1605). In this key position, he influenced the development of Mughal painting in the second half of the 16th century more than any other artist (see Indian subcontinent §VI 4., (i), (b)).

No inscribed works by ‛Abd al-Samad are known from the period when he worked in Safavid Iran, though attributions have been proposed, such as a depiction of the assassination of Khusraw Parviz from the copy of the Shāhnāma made for Shah Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76). Already a mature painter, he paid homage in 1544 to Akbar’s father, the Mughal emperor Humayun (reg 1530–40; 1555–6), when the exiled ruler was given refuge at the court of the Safavid shah Tahmasp at Tabriz. In ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Şeker Ahmet Pasha]

(b Üsküdar, Istanbul, 1841; d Istanbul, 1907).

Turkish painter. In 1859 he became an assistant teacher of painting at the Military Medical High School in Istanbul. In 1864 Sultan Abdülaziz (reg 1861–76) sent him to Paris where, after a preparatory education at a special Ottoman school, he studied painting in the studio of Gustave Boulanger and then under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Ahmet Ali was also instrumental in the acquisition of paintings from France for the Ottoman court. After nearly eight years of studies in Paris, he stayed in Rome for a year before returning to Istanbul, where he resumed his work at the Military Medical High School. In 1873 he organized in Istanbul the first group exhibition of paintings by Turkish and foreign artists to be held in Turkey. He was later appointed master of ceremonies at the Ottoman court and by the time of his death had risen to the office of intendant of the palace. His paintings were influenced by European art. They include landscapes, such as ...

Article

[Mihr ‛Alī]

(fl c. 1795–1830).

Persian painter. He produced at least ten full-size oil paintings of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834). One of the earliest (1797–8; Calcutta, Victoria Mem. Hall), a portrait of him kneeling on a carpet, was probably sent as a present to the amirs of Sind in 1800. Two fine portraits (1803–4 and 1804–5) were painted for the Hall of the Marble Throne in the Gulistan Palace, Tehran, and a third, of the King enthroned (undated; Versailles, Château), was sent to Napoleon. These early portraits show Fath ‛Ali Shah with a squat neck and round face, but Mihr ‛Ali’s drawings improved in the first decade of the 19th century and later portraits show the King with more flattering proportions. These later paintings include portraits of the King standing (1809–10; St Petersburg, Hermitage), kneeling and holding a mace (1813–14; St Petersburg, Hermitage), and a third with the date obliterated (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.). Mihr ‛Ali’s finest portrait, and perhaps the finest ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

[Mīr Sayyid ‛Alī-i Tabrīzī]

(b Tabriz, c. 1510; d Mecca, after 1572).

Persian painter, active also in India. He was the son of the Safavid-period painter Mir Musavvir. Though Qazi Ahmad, writing in the late 16th century, deemed him cleverer in art than his father, Mir Sayyid ‛Ali reveals paternal influence in his meticulous rendering of ornamental patterns and details. As he was a junior artist at the time of the royal Shāhnāma of c. 1525–35 (dispersed, see Dickson and Welch), his contribution to this was limited. Only two miniatures (fols 135v and 568r; priv. col. and New York, Met., respectively; see 1979–80 exh. cat., nos 20 and 33) are attributed to him, and possibly passages in other works by Sultan Muhammad and Aqa Mirak. By the time of the illustration of the Khamsa (‘Five poems’) of Nizami of 1539–42 (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265), Mir Sayyid ‛Ali was a first-rank Safavid court artist, painting four (or possibly five) miniatures, three (or possibly four) of which were subsequently removed from the manuscript (Cambridge, MA, Sackler Mus., 1958.75 and 1958.76; Edinburgh, Royal Mus. Scotland, ...

Article

Robert Skelton

[Muḥammad ‛Alī Muzahhib]

(fl c. 1600–10).

Persian painter, active in India. He has been identified from three inscribed works bearing his name: a Seated Poet (Boston, MA, Mus. F.A.), a Seated Youth (Washington, DC, Freer) and the drawing of A Girl in the Binney Collection (San Diego, CA, Mus. A.). The latter, signed Muhammad ‛Ali Jahangir Shahi with the presumed regnal date 5 (ad 1610–11), shows that he worked for the Mughal emperor Jahangir (reg 1605–27) early in his reign. The painting of a Young Prince Riding (Geneva, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan priv. col.) has also been attributed to him. This is close in style to the painting in the Freer Gallery of Art, and the two share a competent but bland indebtedness to the work of Farrukh Beg. The equestrian portrait of Ibrahim ‛Adil Shah II, attributed to Muhammad ‛Ali by S. C. Welch, is now known to be a signed work of ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair

[Muẓaffar ‛Alī ibn Haydar ‛Alī al-Tabrīzī]

(fl late 1520s–70s; d Qazvin, c. 1576).

Persian calligrapher, illustrator, painter and poet. He was a versatile artist who belonged to the second generation working for Tahmasp I (reg 1524–76) at the Safavid court in north-west Iran (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(a)). His career has been reconstructed by Dickson and Welch on the basis of brief notices by Safavid artists and historians, signed calligraphies and ascribed paintings. He studied calligraphy with the master Rustam ‛Ali, and several folios in the album compiled for Bahram Mirza in 1544–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2154) are signed jointly by Rustam ‛Ali for the writing and Muzaffar ‛Ali for the découpage (Arab. qat‛). He was a master of nasta‛lıq script, and two examples in the album prepared for Amir Ghayb Beg in 1564–5 (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161) are signed by him. In the introduction to this album, Malik Daylami wrote of his skill in calligraphic decoration and gold illumination, and the chronicler Qazi Ahmad reported that he also excelled in gold-flecking, gilding and varnished painting. Muzaffar ‛Ali reportedly studied painting with the renowned master ...

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Rampur, 1916; d Lahore, 1975).

Pakistani painter. A seminal figure, Shakir ‛Ali introduced Cubism to Lahore in 1952. His style quickly became fashionable there, was adopted in Karachi and dominated the art scene for more than a decade (see Pakistan, Islamic Republic of §III).

Shakir ‛Ali first studied painting at the Ukil Brothers Studio in Delhi. In 1938, after a year in that city, he joined the J. J. School of Art, Bombay, which promoted the British system of art education—drawing from cast and copying Old Masters. From the school’s director, Charles Gerrard, Shakir learned mural painting and was introduced to Impressionism. He also learned about indigenous art such as that at Ajanta (see Ajanta, §2, (i)) and the modern work of Roy, Jamini and Sher-Gil, Amrita.

After receiving a diploma in fine art from the Slade School of Art, London, Shakir ‛Ali studied with André Lhote in France. Moving to Prague, he joined the School of Industrial Design and studied textile design. From Prague, Shakir went to Lahore, where he was appointed Professor and head of the art department at the Mayo School of Arts. In ...