Exhibitions: The Adventures of Hamza

  • 1st Floor
    Arts of Africa, Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden
  • 2nd Floor
    Arts of Asia and the Islamic World
  • 3rd Floor
    Egyptian Art, European Paintings
  • 4th Floor
    Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • 5th Floor
    Luce Center for American Art

On View: Plate, Eva

Today when we think of where inventive contemporary design is manufactured, we often think of Italy. This, however, was not always the cas...

Hiroshige's One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Hiroshige's 118 woodblock landscape and genre scenes of mid-nineteenth-century Tokyo, is one of the greatest achievements of Japanese art.

    On View: "Octopus" Coat Hanger

    Today when we think of where inventive contemporary design is manufactured, we often think of Italy. This, however, was not always the c...

     
    Want to add this object to a set? Please join the Posse, or log in.

    close

    ASI_E2002i002.jpg ASI_E2002i003.jpg ASI_E2002i004.jpg ASI_E2002i005.jpg ASI_E2002i006.jpg ASI_E2002i007.jpg ASI_E2002i008.jpg ASI_E2002i009.jpg ASI_E2002i010.jpg ASI_E2002i011.jpg ASI_E2002i012.jpg ASI_E2002i013.jpg ASI_E2002i014.jpg ASI_E2002i015.jpg ASI_E2002i016.jpg ASI_E2002i017.jpg ASI_E2002i018.jpg ASI_E2002i019.jpg ASI_E2002i020.jpg ASI_E2002i021.jpg

    The Adventures of Hamza

    • Dates: November 1, 2002 through January 26, 2003
    • Collections: Asian Art
    Press Releases ?
    • July 2002: The Adventures of Hamza, on view November 1, 2002, through January 26, 2003, at the Brooklyn Museum of Art will reunite 58 of the finest surviving Hamzanama paintings from international public and private collections. Only 200 of the paintings from this extraordinary set are believed to exist today. The exhibition is the first time that the paintings have been seen together since the 18th century.

      Between 1557 and 1572, a group of Persian and Hindu artists fulfilled an extraordinary commission from the Mughal emperor, Akbar, who ruled much of what is now northern India from 1556 to 1605. Still a teenager, Akbar commanded them to create the Hamzanama—an epic organized into 14 enormous volumes, illustrated with approximately 1,400 boldly conceived paintings. Together these formed the world’s most accomplished illustration of a beloved Persian story: the larger-than-life exploits of Amir Hamza, a hero akin to Robin Hood and Indiana Jones. Hamza’s much embellished legend features encounters with giants, demons, and dragons, as well as abductions and hair-raising chases.

      The Adventures of Hamza
      far surpasses in size all previous exhibitions of Hamzanama paintings, including the installation at the British Museum in 1976, and the four shown at the BMA in 1994. The MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, Vienna, the principal lender to the exhibition, with the world’s largest holding of Hamzanama paintings, has lent a core group of 28 paintings; their holdings have never been seen outside Austria.

      Additional lenders to the exhibition include the Victoria & Albert Museum, The British Museum, the al-Sabah Collection, and a dozen major U.S. museums.

      The survival of some of the other paintings in the exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum is a miraculous feat in itself: they were discovered hanging as window shades in huts and houseboats along the Jhelum River in India.

      Four paintings come from the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s own collection. They are considered masterpieces, and are in a superb state of preservation. They are entitled Arghan Dev Brings the Chest of Armor to Hamza[;] Zumurrud Shah Reaches the Foot of a Huge Mountain and is Joined by Ra’im Blood Drinker and Shinning Ruby[;] Umar, Disguised as Mazmahil the Surgeon Practices Quackery on the Sorcerers of Antali[;] and The Ayyars, Led by Songhur Balkhi and Lulu the Spy, Slit the Throats of the Prison Guards and Free Sa’id Farrukh-Nizhad.

      The Hamzanama is similar to other Persian epics because it was recited to a group rather than read in private. Each recitation was given a particular flavor by the storyteller, who departed freely from the text, which varies from manuscript to manuscript. The paintings were intended as visual complements to these public recitations. Each painting in the Adventures of Hamza exhibition will be accompanied by a wall label summarizing the related text so that visitors can fully understand a scene’s meanings. The accompanying catalogue illustrates each painting with a translation of its narrative and outlines the legend’s major cast of characters.

      The exhibition will also clarify the technical features, including large scale and dynamic composition, that make these paintings unique in the history of Islamic art. By integrating Hindu and Persian styles, the Hamzanama launched the Mughal painting tradition, renowned for lush color and intricate patterns. An introductory section will reveal how innovative these paintings were by presenting other images of the period, including work by two Persian masters whose arrival in India led to the new Mughal style.

      The Mughal Empire was founded in northern India in 1562 by Babur (r.1526–1530). After a temporary exile in Iran, Babur’s son Humayun (r.1530–1540, 1555–1556) returned to India, bringing with him the leading Persian artists Mir Sayyid ‘Ali and Abd al-Samad. Both headed the large workshop of Persian and Indian artists who created Akbar’s Hamzanama. At this time, the energy and palette of the Indian painting tradition was melded with the fine draftsmanship characteristic of 16th-century Persian painting to create a wholly new Mughal Indian painting style.

      The Adventures of Hamza is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. It is made possible by generous grants from Juliet and Lee Folger/The Folger Fund and the Starr Foundation, with additional funding from the Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

      The Adventures of Hamza is curated by Dr. John Seyller, a leading scholar on Indian and Mughal painting. Amy Poster, Curator and Chair of the BMA’s Department of Asian Art, and Aimée Froom, Hagop Kervorkian Associate Curator of Islamic Art, will coordinate the exhibition for the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

      A fully illustrated catalog has been published in conjunction with the exhibition, authored by Dr. Seyller, Associate Professor of the University of Vermont with contributions from Dr. Wheeler Thackson of Harvard University and Dr. Ebba Koch of the University of Vienna. Antoinette Owen, senior paper conservator at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, has written an essay on the technical aspects of the paintings.

      Following the Brooklyn Museum of Art presentation, The Adventures of Hamza will travel to The Royal Academy of Art, London, from March15 through June 8, 2003, and the Museum Rietberg, Zürich, from June 28 through October 20, 2003.

      View Original

    Press Coverage of this Exhibition ?

    • This WeekOctober 28, 2002 By LAWRENCE VAN GELDERThis Week column: Exhibit of small group of illustrations from 16th century Persian epic Hamzanama will open at Brooklyn Museum of Art; Giorgio de Chirico and the Myth of Ariadne will open at Philadelphia Museum of Art; Thalia Book Club's fall season will open at Symphony Space with conversation between author Alice Munro and journalist and novelist Robert MacNeil and reading from Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage: Stories by Kate Burton; F Murray Abraham and Vivienne Benesch will star in staged reading of Merchant of Venice at Hunter College; photos (M)
    • Art/Architecture; To the Ancestors Of Bollywood, Art Was Slam-BangNovember 10, 2002 By HOLLAND COTTERHolland Cotter reviews Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibition Adventures of Hamza, illustrations from 16th-century Indian book; photo (M)
    • ART GUIDENovember 22, 2002 "A selective listing by critics of The Times of new or noteworthy art, design and photography exhibitions at New York museums and art galleries this weekend. Addresses, unless otherwise noted, are in Manhattan. Most galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but hours vary and should be checked by telephone. Gallery admission is free. * denotes a..."
    • ART GUIDENovember 29, 2002 "A selective listing by critics of The Times of new or noteworthy art, design and photography exhibitions at New York museums and art galleries this weekend. Addresses, unless otherwise noted, are in Manhattan. Most galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but hours vary and should be checked by telephone. Gallery admission is free. * denotes a..."
    advanced 106,538 records currently online.

    Separate each tag with a space: painting portrait.

    Or join words together in one tag by using double quotes: "Brooklyn Museum."


    Recently Tagged Exhibitions

    Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/www/default/views/opencollection/_tags_list.php on line 15

    Recent Comments

    "Hi Aimee, I think you mean Oreet Ashery? More information can be found in her profile on the Feminist Art Base: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/feminist_art_base/gallery/oreet_ashery.php?i=266"
    By shelley

    "Hi, I am trying to find the name of the artist who took and is in the photograph that follows- http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/exhibitions/664/Global_Feminisms_Remix/image/216/Global_Feminisms_Remix._%7C08032007_-_03032008%7C._Installation_view. I believe the artist takes pictures of herself dressed as a man but then exposes her femaleness, as in the photo of her dressed as an Ascetic Jew exposing her breast. Can you help me find her information? Thanks in advance- Aimee Record"
    By Aimee Record

    "For more information on Louis Schanker and the New York Art Scene of the mid 1900's go to http://www.LouisSchanker.info "
    By Lou Siegel

    Join the posse or log in to work with our collections. Your tags, comments and favorites will display with your attribution.


    The Brooklyn Museum Archives maintains a collection of historical press releases. Many of these have been scanned and made available on our Web site. The releases range from brief announcements to extensive articles; images of the original releases have been included for your reference. Please note that all the original typographical elements, including occasional errors, have been retained. Releases may also contain errors as a result of the scanning process. We welcome your feedback about corrections.
    For select exhibitions, we have made available some or all of the informative text panels written by the curator or organizer. Called "didactics," these panels are presented to the public during the exhibition's run, and we reproduce them here for your reference and archival interest. Please note that any illustrations on the original didactics have not been retained, and that the text may contain errors as a result of the scanning process. We welcome your feedback about corrections.
    For select exhibitions, we have made available some or all of the objects from the Brooklyn Museum collection that were in the installation. These objects are listed here for your reference and archival interest, but the list may be incomplete and does not contain objects owned by other institutions or lenders.
    This section utilizes the New York Times API in order to display related materials in New York Times publications.