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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 (...

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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

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese–American artist and writer. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she was educated in Lebanon and at universities in France and the United States. For many years she taught the philosophy of art at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA. She also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities until her retirement in the late 1970s. Also a novelist and poet, she combined Arabic calligraphy with modern language in her drawings, paintings, ceramics and tapestries. She explored the relationship between word and image in over 200 “artist books,” in which she transcribed in her own hand Arabic poetry from a variety of sources.

E. Adnan: Sitt Marie Rose (Paris, 1978; Eng. trans., Sausalito, CA, 1982) [novel about the Lebanese Civil War]E. Adnan with R. Koraichi and J.-E. Bencheika: Rachid Koraichi: L’écriture passion (Algiers, 1988)E. Adnan: In the Heart of Another Country (San Francisco, 2005)...

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

D. C. Barrett

(b Rishon-le-Zion, Palestine [now Israel], May 11, 1928).

Israeli painter and sculptor. He studied at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem under Mordecai Ardon in 1946, and from 1951 in Paris at the Atelier d’Art Abstrait and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. The major influences on his early work were Kandinsky’s Über das Geistige in der Kunst (1912), the Bauhaus ideas disseminated by Johannes Itten and Siegfried Giedion, with whom he came into contact in Zurich in 1949, and the work of Max Bill. Between 1951 and 1953 his work consisted of a series of Contrapuntal and Transformable Pictures, such as Transformable Relief (1953; Paris, R. N. Lebel priv. col., see Metken, p. 6). In 1953 he held his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Craven in Paris. Although his claims that this was the first exhibition of kinetic art, and that he was the first optical-kinetic artist, have been disputed, he was certainly among the first artists to encourage spectator participation in such a direct way....

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

Sergey Kuznetsov

(b Telavi, April 18, 1898; d Tbilisi, Dec 28, 1975).

Georgian painter. From 1922 she studied at the Tiflis (now Tbilisi) Academy of Arts, where her talent was noted by the patriarch of Georgian realist painting, Georgy Gabashvili. She visited Italy and France, attending Colarossi’s academy in Paris. She painted both Tiflis and Paris in similar style using brown, red and grey half-tones, somewhat reminiscent of the work of Albert Marquet, as in Paris: Working Class Area (1926; Tbilisi, Yelena Akhvlediani Mem. Mus.). After several successful exhibitions in Paris, where she mixed with the small Georgian community and was close to Lado Gudiashvili, in 1927 she returned to Georgia, holding several exhibitions there to mark her progress. For some time she was unable to find an application for her art, and from 1930 she worked as chief artist for the Detskaya Literatura (children’s literature) publishing house, producing pen and ink and watercolour illustrations to the works of Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, Il’ya Chavchavadze and other writers. In ...

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

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as 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

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[‛Alī Wijdān; Wijdan]

(b Baghdad, Aug 29, 1939).

Jordanian painter and art patron. She studied history at Beirut University College (formerly Beirut College for Women), receiving a BA in 1961. In 1993 she took a PhD in Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After serving in the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing her country at United Nations meetings in Geneva and New York, Ali founded the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan in 1979 and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in 1980 (see Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of). In 1988 she organized in Amman the Third International Seminar on Islamic Art, entitled ‘Problems of Art Education in the Islamic World’, and in 1989 she organized the exhibition Contemporary Art from the Islamic World at the Barbican Centre, London. In 2001 she founded the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan, and has received numerous awards in recognition of her work in the arts....

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...