Persian Miniatures & Pottery
- Dates: April 5, 1935 through May 20, 1935
- Collections: Arts of the Islamic World
Spring approximately 1931: An Exhibition of Persian Art and its Reaction on the Modern World will open a the Brooklyn Museum on the evening of March 16th, with a special reception remaining on public display for two months. This exhibition will present the superb craftsmanship of Persia in miniatures and calligraphy, in pottery, fine textiles, rugs, costumes, metal work, lacquer and so forth, and will also demonstrate Persian influence on Europe and America. Special exhibits of modern industrial art following the Persia mode have been formed by leaders in the textile and costume trades. Also designs made by pupils in the public schools and in private art schools will offer evidence of the importance of Persian inspiration in education.
At the reception there will be addresses by A. V. Williams Jackson, Professor of Indo-Iranian Languages at Columbia University, and Honorary President of the American Institute for Persian Art and Archaeology, and by Madame Zorah Heidary, a special representative of the Persian Government for Fine Arts. Two Asiatic dances will be given by Sri Mara mara and a costume parade arranged by Edward L* Mayer, showing Persian adaptations in modern dress.
The Museum collections in Persian art have been richly enhanced by loans of Persian material made by collectors in greater New York, including those of the Persian and Near Eastern Colony. A comprehensive survey of the drawings and illuminations in Persian books is made possible by selections offered by George D. Pratt, Kirkor Ninassian, H. Khan Monif, the DeMotte Galleries R.Y. Mottahedeh, and others. There will also be special exhibition of early-bookbinding and calligraphy arranged by Mr. Minassian.
The marvellous paottery of Persia is represented by the Museum's collection which is especially rich in early Rakka ware, Rokka being a site founded by Haroun al Paschid of Arabian Nights fame. This and other types of Persian pottery made from the tenth to the seventeenth century are found in the loan collections of Frank L. Babbott, Dikran Kelekian, P. Jackson Higgs, Fahim Kouchakji, Minassian, H.K. Kevorkian and others. The lustered ware and brilliant polychrome vessels of Gaghes, the turquoise glazed fabrics of Sultanabad and other brilliant potteries from early enters in Persia and Irak, will afford students an unusual opportunity to study Near Eastern design at its best stages. There will be a fine showing of tiles including some early pieces loans by the persian Industries Corporation and the Kevorkian Galleries.
The archaeological remains which mark the developments from the civilizations of Assyria and Babylonia to that of Persia proper is illustrated in ancient pottery of Mesopotamia from the collections of E. S. David, Kelekian and Dr. Washburn Freund. An interesting exhibit is a large series of royal seals of Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian kings with prints of the inscriptions, which has been arranged by Mr. Fahim Kouchakaji. Next come bronzes of Luristan which are believes to represent a culture of the Persians in the first millenium before Christ. These are specimens loaned by Maud R. Stora, R. Y. Mottahedah and N. M. Heermaneck. An important fragment of Assyrian sculpture showing the head of a winged deity in limestone is from the Kelekian Gallery.
It was through Persia that silk good first passed to the Romans and several important technical processes such as the pile-knots used in rugs and velvet reached Europe in later times from the Persians and the Central Asiatic peoples. Many beautiful brocades, embroideries and prints from Persia have been supplied by Mr. George D. Pratt, Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt, Messrs. H. and P. Jaehne, and others already mentioned and rugs of exceptional types, a few pieces of Mr. Ernest G. Metcalfe's collection, will be put on display and several fine examples by Medhin Dilmaghani. One of the most interesting series for the technical student consists of three rugs, one a rose Ispahan carpet in the purest Persian style, another a rug of similar style made by Persian workmen in India and a third of still more recent date showing the partial substitution of HIndu motives. There are rare so-called Polish carpets and a large vase carpet in fine preservation.
The Metal work exhibits include pieces from the arms collection of Mr. George C. Stone. Glass, lacquer and jewelry will be displayed and details of doorways, etc. from Persian and Near Eastern houses.
In the commercial field, H. R. Mallinson has formed an exhibit of silk with designs of Persian and Arabic inspiration. Cheney Brothers show decorative hangings and Napier has jewelry accessories. Mr. Edward L. Mayer offers a showing of costumes of Persian inspiration worn by models for the opening night of the exhibition and for the permanent display a series of special fabrics.
The Exhibition of Persian Art will remain open until the meeting of the American Federation of Arts which will take place in the Brooklyn Museum in May and an invitation will be extended to members of the College Art Association meeting in New York in April. Arrangements are being made for a prize competition in Near Eastern design which will be open to pupils of decorative art and it is hoped that there will be a general response from young artists.
April 4, 1935: The Brooklyn Museum will open tomorrow, with a reception and preview in the afternoon, the new gallery of Persian Art in which an exhibition is now installed for the first time. Selected work from the Brooklyn Museum School Service, which has recently been accepted for use in the public schools of New York City, will also be shown in the new educational gallery adjacent.
The Exhibition of Persian art, which has been arranged by Mr. Laurence Roberts, Assistant Curator of Oriental Art, assisted by Miss Christine Krehbiel, and Miss Helen Frangen, includes objects from the Oriental Collection of the Brooklyn Museum and also loans from the Metropolitan Museum, Prinze Mirza Mahmoud, Kahn Saghapi, H. K. Monif, Dikran G. Kelekian, H. Kevorkian, Kirker Minassian, Parish-Watson and Company, and Edward M. M. Warburg. Loans from the Metropolitan include pottery and miniatures; from Prince Saghapi, miniatures and calligraphy; from Mr. Monif XIIth Century potter and XVth and XVIth Century miniatures; from Mr. Kelekian miniatures and Rayy pottery; from Mr. Kevorkian, vases, miniatures ranging in date from the XIIIth to the XVIth Centuries; from Parish-Watson and Company, pottery illuminations and portraits, from Mr. Warburg, a Sultanabad bowl and a Rayy cup; from the University Museum, Philadelphia, pottery excavated at Rayy last season.
The exhibit opens with a group of XIIIth Century miniatures of the Abbasid Schools or School of Bagdhad, so named after the Abbasid Caliphs who reigned in Mesopotamia at that time. Painters of this school, among whom were many Christians, were forerunners of Persian miniaturists. The influence of early Christian and Byzantine painting predominates, but Asiatic influence is evident in the treatment of animals. Related work shown includes pages from a manuscript in the Hagia Sophia Library, Constantinople, a treatise on automata by al Jarazi, also large jars, a tabouret and other pottery from Rakka, an ancient city on the Euphrates between Aleppo and Baghdad. This pottery has a green blue glaze over designs in black. A vase from the Parthian period is shown with the Rakka ware with which it was found.
No Persian manuscripts of the earlier years of the XIIIth Century has been preserved, but the manner of painting can be easily seen in a fine series of painted pottery vessel from Rayy, a city near Teheran, which was destroyed in 1221 by the Monghols, who also captured Bagdhad in 1256. Manuscripts preserved from the latter part of their rule show combined Persian and Chinese influence. The Chinese influence is also seen in the pottery designs, and the opportunity for comparison of similar designs in the two media is most instructive. This style is seen in pages from the Shah Namah, the epic poem of Persia by Firdusi, and is reflected in the XIVth Century pottery from Sultanabad.
The Persian national style of painting was founded in the XVth Century after Timur had overthrown the Mongol dynasty. It is a style with smaller figures, firm outlines, exquisitely minute details and vigorous colors unbroken by gradations in chiaroscuro. The last years of the Timurid Dynasty saw Persian painting brought to its height of decorative brilliance and charm. The miniatures now glow with bright jewel-like colors. This entire period of the development and climax of the Persian national school of painting is represented by illuminations, miniatures, and complete manuscript books with elaborate bindings and illustrations. The exhibition is brought through the XVIth and into the XVIIth Century with further manuscripts, portraits and examples of calligraphy, the writing of Arabic being in Persian estimation a fine art that rivals painting in honor and importance. The same fluent and gracefu1 line is used that is characteristic of the best miniatures.
The new Gallery of Persian Art is divided into shallow alcoves by massive pylons. The originally ornate architectural style of this section of the Museum has been simplified to accord with a modern scheme of decoration and installation. Improved cases and lighting equipment are used. The color scheme is grey relieved with dark blue and black.