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A Private Rebellion: Indian Painting in the Qajar Court of the nineteenth century

Thursday 31 January 2019, 6.30PM

Speaker(s): Naciem Nikkhah

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, artists and calligraphers traveled between the Safavid and Mughal Empires in search of patrons. Their works were collected by the elites of these lands and compiled in albums, creating a style unified by certain visual devices and the use of Persian poetry. This practice of collecting continued to have an impact long after the Safavid period, as this talk will demonstrate by exploring the so-called Nasir al-Din Shah Album, currently held at the Golestan Palace Library in Tehran. Consisting of 172 pages that had originally belonged to the Mughal emperors Jahangir (r. 1605–27) and Shah Jahan (r. 1628–58), the album is said to have been dismantled and reassembled by the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96), whose artists altered the folios and rebound them in their current format and order. The painting style of some folios and the inclusion of a portrait of the Afsharid ruler Adil Shah (d. 1749) attests to the album’s rearrangement. Tracing the alteration of the album’s elements from their initial compilation in India to their final arrangement in Iran, Naciem's talk demonstrates the role of the past in shaping the formation of new aesthetic standards under the Qajars, a process in which the king-collector was a central figure.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception. All attendees welcome.

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Location: Treehouse, Berrick Saul

Admission: Free