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Dealers, Collectors and Curators: The rise in fascination with Mina’i ware in the early twentieth century

Monday 21 January 2019, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Richard McClary

The colourful mina’i ware ceramics, produced in Iran in the eleventh and early twelfth centuries and featuring overglaze enamel figural painting, were virtually unknown prior to the last decades of the nineteenth century. However, by the 1930s almost every major museum, private collection, exhibition and publication concerning Islamic art featured large numbers of increasingly perfect examples. Through the prism of one class of Islamic ceramics, this talk examines the complex relationship between the commercial, scholarly and institutional worlds, as well as the intersection of politics and art prior to the Second World War. After an introduction to the wares themselves, it will be seen how these often heavily repaired and overpainted items became some of the most prized possessions in the leading private collections and public museums in Europe and North America, as well as Russia, Japan and Iran. The talk concludes with a study of the levels, as well as methods, of restoration and reconstruction that saw bits of various broken vessels found in clandestine excavations transformed into seemingly perfect museum quality pieces.

Location: Bowland Auditorium