York Islamic Art Circle
Portraiture, a well-established category in European arts, remains a contested and at times hotly debated subject in Islamic arts. As a cultural and artistic concept, portraiture faces resistance in the broader production of the arts in Islam, while it occupies an important place in the arts of the Persianate Islam in West, Central and South Asia. This talk takes note of the definition of portraiture in Persian literary and pictorial representations, in comparison to those of the earlier Arab and later Mughal examples. Focusing on the Timurid and Safavid (15th-18th centuries) cultural understanding of portraiture, my main argument takes note of the subtle distinctions between a likeness (shabih) and a complicated set of meanings attached to the term surat (visage/face/depiction). Those distinctions, I argue, are crucial in the making of pictorial signs and to the understanding of portraiture in Persian painting.
Please note this talk will be held in the Treehouse and not the Bowland Auditorium as previously advertised.
Sussan Babaie is the Andrew W. Mellon Reader in the Arts of Iran and Islam at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She has taught widely including at Smith College, University of Michigan and the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. She is the author or co-author of numerous books including most recently Honar: The Afkhami Collection of Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art (2017), Persian Kingship and Architecture: Strategies of Power in Iran from the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis (2014), Shirin Neshat (2013), Isfahan and Its Palaces: Statecraft, Shi‘ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran (2008), and Slaves of the Shah: New Elites of Safavid Iran (2004).