York Islamic Art Circle
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.
Naciem Nikkhah is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. She received her BA in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute, and her MA in History of Art and Archaeology from SOAS, University of London. Her current research focuses on the relationship between text and image in 16th-17th century Persian paintings. She is particularly interested in the selection process of poetry that borders a painting on a single-folio, and the agency of text in comparison to painting. Naciem has also curated exhibitions and collaborative projects between galleries and universities of Tehran, Iran, and California, United States.