This volume – published for the first international exposition in Europe devoted to art in sixteenth century Persia – documents the extraordinary artistic output that developed in Persia during the Safavid dynasty of the Shahs Ismail and Tahmasp.Read more
By means of a selection of extraordinary works of art – carpets, illuminated and miniature books, bindings, fabrics, ceramics, arms, ivories and jewellery – from the world’s most important public and private collections, the volume covers the founding themes and evolution of art at the Persian court during the first seventy-five years of the sixteenth century.
The first period of this court art developed during the reign of Shah Ismail (1501-1524) who united Persia for the first time since the Arab invasion in the seventh century. The emerging national and religious identity (shiite) can be observed in the development of an artistic style which reached its maximum splendour during the reign of his son Tahmasp (1524-1576). Artists, poets and men of letters gave birth to a cultural renaissance: a golden age where artistic production reached unrivalled levels of refinement. In this new social and cultural context the Safavid style developed, inheriting and reinterpreting the artistic tradition of the Timurid (from the descendants of Tamerlane) and Turkoman styles.
These works, created for monarchs, represent the spirit of a people: they express a cosmic, metaphysical and mystic vision. Among many masterpieces the celebrated Hunting carpet from the Poldi Pezzoli Museum of Milan stands out (one of the few existing signed and dated carpets and considered one of the most important in the world), alongside important Safavid works of art such as the splendid illuminated manuscripts and ivories from the museums of Teheran, exhibited for the first time in the west.
Curated by Sheila Canby of the Department of Islamic Art at the British Museum, London, Jon Thompson, director of the Department of Oriental Art at the Ashmolean Museum of Art, Oxford, and the collaboration of John Eskenazy, a great connoisseur of oriental art, gallerist and editor, this volume is an important critical contribution to our knowledge of Persian art and culture, written by some of the maximum experts in this sector and illustrated with a rich collection of colour images.
Milan, Poldi Pezzoli Museum and Palazzo Reale
10 March – 27 June 2004