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John Sweetman and A. R. Gardner

[Hindoo, Indo-Saracenic]

Term used specifically in the 19th century to describe a Western style based on the architecture and decorative arts of the Muslim inhabitants (the Moors) of north-west Africa and (between 8th and 15th centuries) of southern Spain; it is often used imprecisely to include Arab and Indian influences. A similar revivalist style prevalent specifically in Spain around the same time is known as the Mudéjar revival. Although their rule in Spain finally ended in 1492, the Moors remained indispensably part of the European vision of the East. (See also Orientalism.)

In the Renaissance moreschi were bandlike patterns allied to grotesques. The Swiss Johann Heinrich Müntz, who visited Spain in 1748 and drew unspecified Moorish buildings, designed a Moorish garden building (1750; London, RIBA) that may have formed the basis for the Alhambra (destr.), one of a series of exotic buildings designed by William Chambers after 1758 for the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, near London. Further early interest was shown by the painter ...


[‛Alī Muḥammad Iṣfahānī ibn Ustād Mahdī]

(fl 1870s–1888).

Persian potter and tilemaker. Trained as a mason in Isfahan, he probably followed his father’s trade and chose to specialize in making pottery and tiles. His experiments making tiles that imitated the fine work produced under the Safavids (reg 1501–1732), when Isfahan was the capital of Iran, caught the attention of Major-General Robert Murdoch Smith, director of the Persian Telegraph Department and collector of Persian art, and in 1884 Murdoch Smith ordered wall tiles from ‛Ali Muhammad. The potter soon moved to Tehran, seat of the Qajar court (reg 1779–1924), where he established a workshop at the gate of the Shahzada ‛Abd al-‛Azim. Several large tiles made for the royal music master in 1884–5 (540×427 mm; London, V&A, 511.1889, 512.1889) depicting young men reading poetry in an orchard imitate Safavid work of the 17th century. Seven smaller tiles datable 1884–7 (470×340 mm; Edinburgh, R. Harvey-Jamieson priv. col.) show a more evolved style in which black is used as an incised slip and figures are moulded in relief. The tiles depict scenes from Persian literature such as Shirin and Farhad at Mt Bisitun, and royal receptions, but the faces and dress are in typical Qajar style. ‛Ali Muhammad’s mature style is seen in 12 tiles (...