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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

Absalon  

John-Paul Stonard

[Eshel, Meir]

(b Tel Aviv, Dec 26, 1964; d Paris, Oct 10, 1993).

Israeli sculptor. He adopted the name Absalon on his arrival in Paris in the late 1980s. During his short career he achieved widespread recognition for the 1:1 scale architectural models that he constructed of idealized living units. These wooden models, painted white, demonstrate an obsession with order, arrangement and containment, and have associations both of protective shelters and monastic cells. They were designed to be placed in several cities and to function as living-pods for the artist as he travelled. Exhibiting a series of six ‘cellules’ in Paris in 1993, he described how they were fitted both to his body and to his mental space, but were also able to condition the movements of his body in line with their idealized architecture. Although he denied their apparent utopianism, the sculptures can be viewed as the reduction of the utopian aims of early modern architecture (as seen in the work of the Constructivists, de Stijl and Le Corbusier) to the level of individual subjectivity. This suggests both the failure of architectural social engineering and its inevitable basis in subjective, anti-social vision. Absalon’s habitational units also have an element of protest. In an interview for the ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair

[Abu Ṭāhir]

Persian family of potters. The family is sometimes known, somewhat improperly, by the epithet Kashani [al-Kashani, Qashani], which refers to their home town, Kashan. It was a major centre for the production of lustre pottery in medieval Iran, and they were among the leading potters there, working in both the Monumental and the Miniature styles (see Islamic art, §V, 3(iii)). As well as the lustre tiles for many Shi‛ite shrines at Qum, Mashhad, Najaf and elsewhere, they made enamelled and lustred vessels. Three other families of Persian lustre potters are known, but none had such a long period of production. At least four generations of the Abu Tahir family are known from signatures on vessels and tiles, including dados, large mihrabs and grave covers. The family may be traced to Abu Tahir ibn Abi Husayn, who signed an enamelled bowl (Cairo, Mus. Islam. A.). A lustre bowl in the Monumental style (London, N.D. Khalili priv. col.), signed by ...

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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....

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Howard Crane

[Esir; ‛Alā’ al-Dīn ‛Alī ibn ‛Abd al-Karīm]

(b ?Tabriz; d Istanbul, c. 1537).

Ottoman architect. His epithets, acemi (Persian) and esir (prisoner), suggest that he was captured in the 1514 campaign against the Safavids of Iran by the Ottoman sultan Selim I (reg 1512–20). He served as chief imperial architect from at least September 1525 until March 1537. Works attributed to him include the mosque of Çoban Mustafa Pasha (1515) in Eskişehir, the complex of Çoban Mustafa Pasha in Gebze (1519–25) and the mosque and tomb of Selim I in Istanbul (1523). He also founded the Mimar Mosque and dervish hostel (Turk. zaviye), near the Mevlevihane Yeni Kapı in Şehremini, Istanbul, where he is buried. His style is marked by sound engineering and extreme eclecticism. The complex in Gebze, for example, was decorated with marble panelling in the style of Mamluk buildings in Egypt, while the mosque of Selim is a direct quotation of the mosque of Bayezid II in ...

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(b Istanbul, 1898; d Istanbul, 1957).

Turkish sculptor. After military service in World War I he went in 1918 to the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul, where he studied under the sculptor Ihsan Özsoy (1867–1944). With the help of his father he then went to Germany, where he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. From Munich he went to Paris, where, after failing to get lessons from Aristide Maillol, he worked independently, inspired by the work of Maillol and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle. After returning to Turkey in 1925 and passing an examination he was able to go back to Paris, where he entered the Académie Julian and worked under the sculptors Henri Bouchard (1875–1960) and Paul Landowski (1875–1961). He returned to Turkey in 1928 and worked first as an art teacher at Edirne Teachers' College and then at various middle schools in Istanbul until his death. His principal works included the monument in Menemen to ...

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)....

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Afzal  

[Mir Afżal al-Ḥusaynī al-Tūnī]

(fl Isfahan, 1640–51).

Persian illustrator. Active during the reign of the Safavid shah ‛Abbas II (reg 1642–66), Afzal produced manuscript illustrations and single pages for albums in different styles. Most of the 62 paintings he made for the voluminous copy (St Petersburg, Saltykov-Shchedrin Pub. Lib., Dorn 333) of Firdawi’s Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’) presented to the monarch by the head of the royal guard, Murtiza Quli Khan, are scenes of battles and combats in the Metropolitan style that was transferred from Herat to Bukhara (see Islamic art, §III, 4(vi)(c)). Unlike the tinted drawings of his contemporaries, Afzal’s single-page compositions use a rich, sombre palette highlighted with gold. Most depict the standard repertory of languid youths and lovers in the style of Riza, but are more erotic. Bishop with a Crosier (Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., M.73.5.456) is the only known Persian portrait of an Armenian religious figure; it shows a broad-faced, sensitively modelled figure similar in style to those in the ...

Article

Howard Crane

(d Istanbul, Sept 1598).

Ottoman architect. He followed the standard career pattern for architects at the Ottoman court: recruited as a janissary, he studied architecture under Sinan (see Sinan) in the imperial palace in Istanbul, rose to the rank of superintendent of the water supply, the second ranking official in the corps of imperial architects, in 1576 and finally replaced his teacher as chief court architect in 1588. He also participated, presumably as a military engineer, in the campaign against Iran in 1583. He worked on various projects under Sinan’s direction, including the Selimiye Mosque (1569–75) in Edirne, the mosque (and probably the tomb) of Mehmed Ağa (1585) in the Çarşamba district of Istanbul and a hall and bath for the Yeni Saray. Davud Ağa’s own works in Istanbul include the Incili Kiosk (1589), the Septeciler Kiosk (1591), the complex of Sinan Pasha (...

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Howard Crane

(b Garmish, Berat, Albania; d Istanbul, c. 1660).

Ottoman architect. He followed the typical career path for an architect at the Ottoman court: recruited as a janissary, he was trained in the imperial palace in Istanbul before his appointment (by 1626–7) as chief court architect. Twice exiled because of court intrigues and the fall of fellow Albanian officials, he always managed to return to the capital. Although Kasım Ağa had general responsibility for all imperial foundations during his tenure as chief court architect (c. 1623–44 and 1645–51) and for many of the projects commissioned by senior members of the Ottoman ruling élite, his exact role in the design and execution of these projects is unclear. Works frequently credited to him personally include the Çinili complex (1640) at Üsküdar in Istanbul and the Revan and Baghdad kiosks (1635 and 1638) in the Tokapı Palace there. He is said to have completed the Sepetciler Kasrı (...

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Howard Crane

[Sedefkâr: ‘mother-of-pearl worker’]

(b Kalkandelen, western Macedonia or Ilbasan, Albania, c. 1550; d Istanbul, 1622).

Ottoman architect and worker in mother-of-pearl. He followed the typical career path of architects at the Ottoman court: recruited as a janissary (c. 1562), from 1569 to 1588 he studied architecture in the imperial palace under Sinan (see Sinan) and mother-of-pearl inlay under Usta Muhammed. He was appointed superintendent of the water supply, the second ranking official in the corps of imperial architects, in 1597 or 1598, and finally replaced Ahmed Dalgiç as chief court architect on 11 October 1606. Mehmed Ağa travelled extensively: appointed court gate-keeper in 1589–90, he went to Egypt on official business and returned via Syria and Anatolia, visiting the holy shrines along his route, and as inspector of fortresses and garrisons he was sent to the Balkans, Hungary and the Crimea. From 1593 to 1597 he also worked in the provincial administration of Diyarbakır, Damascus and Hawran.

According to his biographer Ca‛fer Efendi in the ...

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Howard Crane

[Meremetçi: ‘the Mender’]

(d Istanbul, c. 1665).

Ottoman architect. Known as the ‘Mender’, owing to his early career as a repairer and restorer, he was appointed chief imperial architect on the removal of Kasım Ağa in 1644, although he reportedly spent so much on building stables at Üsküdar for Ibrahim (reg 1640–48) that he was dismissed the following year. Reappointed in 1651, he was charged with the rebuilding of the Dardanelles fortresses at Çanakkale (1659–61). His major commission, executed between 1660 and 1663, was to complete the Yeni Valide Mosque at Eminönü in Istanbul, begun by Davud Ağa in 1594. Mustafa Ağa added its associated pavilion, public fountains, primary school, Koran school, the tomb of its founder and nearby Mısr Çarşı (Egyptian Bazaar). He supervised construction of the pavilion (Turk. kasr) of Davud Pasha (1665) and was responsible for the construction of the fountain (Turk. sebil) of Mustafa Ağa (...

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

Wheeler M. Thackston

[Mīr Sayyid Aḥmad al-Ḥusaynī al-Mashhadī]

(b Mashhad; fl 1550–74; d Mazandaran, 1578).

Persian calligrapher. He belonged to a family of Husayni sayyids, or descendants of the Prophet, and his father was a chandler. He was trained in calligraphy at Herat by Mir ‛Ali Husayni Haravi. When Mir ‛Ali was taken to Bukhara by the Uzbeks in 1529, Mir Sayyid Ahmad followed his master and was employed in the workshop of ‛Abd al-‛Aziz Khan, Shaybanid ruler of Bukhara. After the Khan’s death in 1550, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned to Iran. For some years he served the Safavid shah Tahmasp (reg 1524–76) before retiring to Mashhad, where he taught calligraphy. When Tahmasp revoked his pension, Mir Sayyid Ahmad lived in penury until Mir Murad Khan, governor of Mazandaran province, visited Mashhad in 1557 and invited the calligrapher to his court. After Mir Murad Khan’s death, Mir Sayyid Ahmad returned again to Mashhad. He was in charge of assembling the Amir Ghayb Beg Album (Istanbul, Topkapı Pal. Lib., H. 2161), a splendid album of painting and calligraphy completed in ...

Article

A. V. Ikonnikov

(Ramazanovich)

(b Kurakr, Dagestan, Sept 15, 1929).

Turkmenian architect. He studied from 1948 to 1953 at the Azerbaijan Polytechnical Institute, Baku, with Mikael’ Useynov. His first buildings, in Turkmenia (now Turkmenistan), such as the district Waterworks Building (1954) above an artesian well in Archman and the building of the Ashkhabadstroy Trust (1956) in Ashkhabad, followed the neo-classical trend. In subsequent years he adopted a Rationalist approach, which combined adaptations to the extreme climatic conditions and cultural traditions of the republic. His first significant building, the Hotel Ashkhabad (1969), Ashkhabad, is distinguished by its bulk, which is emphasized by the deep chiaroscuro of its loggias and the powerful sculpting of the non-figurative reliefs on the terrace parapet. In the 1960s Akhmedov directed the planning of the centre of Ashkhabad, the focal point of which is a main square with irrigated flowerbeds. Its sides are defined by the isolated masses of the principal buildings designed by Akhmedov: the headquarters (...