Author: Naoe (page 1 of 2)

Get Fine Arts materials digitized

The Fine Arts Library’s Digital Images and Slides Collection can provide copy photography by request for teaching and research. Materials including books, photographs, slides or transparencies can be digitized. Image subject matter should be related to the visual arts, archaeology, architecture, or material culture.

All materials digitized by request will also be made available online to the Harvard community.

 

MAKE A REQUEST

All Harvard ID holders can request these materials. Faculty and classroom teaching requests are given first priority. No fees associated with this service.

 

SUBMIT A REQUEST:

To make a request, please fill out the Imaging Order Request Form (directions for the form) and bring it with the materials to be digitized to the Lamont Library West Door.

  • Drop off is available Mondays and Wednesdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • At the Lamont Library West Door, please notify the guard that you are making a drop off for the Fine Arts Library digitization service.
  • Please follow instructions regarding safe distancing at Lamont.

 

PRODUCTION TIME:

Please allow at least 5 business days per 50 images.

Due to the pandemic, safety guidelines for handling library materials require quarantine periods between staff handoffs. As a result, turnaround time for orders will vary.

Questions?

Email Christopher Hyde: christopher_hyde@harvard.edu

Resource list on digital images of artworks by Black artists

The Fine Arts Library has put together a list of resources on digital images of artworks by Black artists that focus on Black history and issues of race.

We are committed to increasing our representation of works by Black artists and others who have been traditionally left out of the narrative of art history, and to making these resources more accessible and discoverable. Towards that goal, we encourage you to reach out to us with suggestions for artists you don’t find in our collections, improvements we can make to improve the findability of our images, or any other inquiries. Click the link below for a downloadable PDF.

Resource list on digital images of artworks by Black artists

Late Ottomania in the Fine Arts Library’s Binney Collection

Written by Gavin Moulton (Class of 2020)

Color engraving of Commander of the Janissaries

Aga of the Janissaries. Colored engraving by Jacques Charles Bar, 1789. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

As a student assistant in the Fine Arts Library, I spent the Spring semester diving into the prints of the library’s recently acquired Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints. This collection is an unparalleled resource for the study of Western and Central European perceptions of the Ottoman Empire. It also offers an interesting look into the mind of American collector Edward Binney 3rd (Harvard PhD 1961). It appears that Binney had booksellers and antiquarians on the lookout for any material illustrating Turkish or Ottoman-related subjects.

 

That has left the collection with a mélange of drawings, engravings, lithographs, aquatints, and even illustrated sheet music, dating from the 15th century to the early 20th century, the work of artists active in Europe and the Middle East. The late Edwin Binney 3rd is better known for his collections of Ottoman and Mughal miniatures, now held by the Harvard Art Museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Diego Museum of Art. But the substantial and surprising variety of  European prints and ephemera makes this lesser-known collection, donated by his family to the Fine Arts Library, a wonderfully relevant source that traces the visual development of Orientalism.

 

Compared to painting or literature, prints have been relatively understudied in relation to Orientalist discourse, yet their wide circulation certainly had a profound impact on everyday perceptions of the Ottoman world. The longue durée covered by the Binney collection also provides unique insight into the (often nefarious) practice of repurposing and relabeling prints decades or even centuries after their original creation. Not only does this make it difficult for student catalogers like me to correctly identify works, it has also been a challenge for scholars in the past. Many publications incorrectly identify figures in some recycled prints by the listed caption, without noting the original creator and subject of the image. Thus, these images need to be approached critically, as any label may be intentionally misleading.

 

Particular strengths of this collection include lithographed 19th c. sheet music, a variety of costume albums and prints, and travelogues illustrated by artists such as Nicolas de Nicolay (1517-1583), Melchior Lorck (1527-ca. 1590), and Claude DuBosc (1682–1745?). While the collection will be of most interest to those studying the development of Orientalist art, there is rich material for Ottomanists, scholars of French and German prints, and literary historians. The great variety of the material in the collection brings new awareness of how Ottoman identity was perceived, visually constructed and projected in cities such as Paris, Berlin, Venice, London, and Madrid.

View of the rooftop of Constantinople depicted in pen and ink

View over the rooftops of Constantinople. Pen and ink drawing by Melchior Lorck, between 1555 and 1559. Statens museum for kunst, Copenhagen.

Aside from historical insight, many of the prints are of high artistic value, especially those by the famed Danish artist Melchior Lorck. The talented and inventive printer Melchior Lorck was no fan of the Ottoman Empire, where he was sent as part of an embassy from the Holy Roman Emperor. The time Lorck spent in Constantinople (1555-1559) seems to have been mostly miserable, spent in intermittent detention by the Ottoman government, which must have contributed to his poor view of the state. Though at first glance, his prints may not seem overtly negative, they contain subversive imagery that paints the empire in a negative light. Take for example, his print of Constantinople’s rooftops. It appears to be an almost photographic impression of a view (maybe from the room where he was staying), with terracotta rooftiles and the lead covered dome of a nearby Islamic building. Closer inspection, however, shows a couple making love in a terraced overhang. Another print in this fashion is one showing the Süleymaniye Mosque complex. While ostensibly focused on the architecture, it features apocalyptic imagery, with the moon (representing Islam) being eclipsed by a mass of clouds, as the bright shining sun (of Christianity) bursts forth. The most comprehensive book on Lorck’s work, by Erik Fischer, often glosses over the political undertones of his prints that viewers will discover at first hand in the Binney collection.

View of mosque in Constantinople. Black and white print

The Süleymaniye Mosque, Constantinople. Print by Melchior Lorck, 1570. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

It is fortunate that this resource is located in an art library, as that facilitates easy comparison with readily available reference tools and secondary materials. This is key, due to the complexity of the collection and the pitfalls of studying prints. The future digitization of this collection will make it a useful tool for all scholars and students of Ottoman history.

A Turkish woman in a traditional dress as a noblewoman with a head piece and clog shoes.

Turkish noblewoman dressed for the house or Seraglio. Colored print by Louis Daret, after a sketch by Nicolas de Nicolay, 1567. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

Coloring Book from the Welch Collection

By popular demand, and to brighten your quarantines, the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection has come out with a coloring book! These images are all from this fantastic open-access collection, and we hope you’ll have fun with it.

Feel free to use the links in the coloring book to see the full-color versions, or just go with your imagination! We’d love to see your completed pictures! If you’d like to share, use the hashtags #ColoringWelch and #ColorOurCollections, or tag us at @HarvardFineArtsLibrary on Instagram,  @MENALibAHS on Twitter, #harvardfineartslib on Tumblr, and follow us if you haven’t already.

Click on the image below to download our 2020 coloring book.

 

Front cover of the coloring book

Coloring Book from the Welch Collection

 

 

 

Stuart Cary Welch Islamic & South Asian Photograph Collection – Part 5. Overview: Islamic Art in Private Collections

This post is the fifth in a series about the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection written by the project’s staff and student catalogers in the Digital Images and Slides Collections of the Fine Arts Library. Written by Alice West.

The importance of our open access Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Digital Images Collection has been noted in this series of blog posts. Yet, since the research, digitization, and cataloging of the collection is an on-going effort, we have not developed any systematic general description of this resource. But as the number of digitized images has grown, we have begun to define broad categories of images that could help researchers and art lovers around the world better understand what the Welch Collection can offer to them. This multi-part series from the project’s staff cataloger Alice West aims to highlight key strengths of the Welch Collection as a whole. In her first post, West describes one of the important subsets of the collection: works in private collections.

In this digital era, it may seem that anything one needs to find is readily available online. Yet researchers in any field, and in the field of Islamic art in particular, know that this perception is deceiving. Relative to the overall number of important Islamic manuscripts and artifacts, the number of their images available online or, for that matter, in print, is surprisingly low. There are many reasons for this, including shortage of technical and financial resources available for digitization efforts, as well as the unwillingness of institutions and private collectors to share their treasures with the public due to economic, political, ownership, and other concerns.

The Welch Collection fills in some of the ‘digital gaps’ by offering images from multiple sources that may not be otherwise available to the public. What are these gaps? One of the largest in terms of accessibility is private collections. Initially assembled for personal enjoyment, many prominent private collections from the late 19th–mid-20th century were later sold, bequeathed, or transferred to permanent hold to public museums and libraries. These include the collections of Calouste Gulbenkian, Victor Goloubew, Nasli Heeramaneck, Edmund de Unger, Leo S. Figiel, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and many others. The majority of these collections have been fully or partially digitized by the hosting institutions. At the same time, many of the collections stayed private and are closed to the public eye. Although our digitization effort is not completed, we can already say that the Welch Collection holds hundreds of images of paintings, calligraphy, and decorative art that are currently held in otherwise inaccessible private collections, including that of B. W. Robinson, Bedros Sevadjian, Stuart Cary Welch, and many anonymous owners.

Periodically, objects from these collections are offered at auctions such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s, and one may find their images online or in older auction catalogs. These are, however, expensive and not widely available. Even when an image is available on the auctioneer’s website, Welch’s collection, in most cases, offers a superior image or its details (close-ups).

 

Side-by-side photos of painting from a private collection, illustrating the superior quality of the images from the Welch collection. On left, a bearded man in a jeweled turban and earrings is shown in profile from the waist up, seated formally on a red divan and holding a white teacup. Image has a soft focus and yellow hues. Same photo on right (Welch collection) has dramatically higher resolution.

A Portrait of Raja Bhao Singh of Bundi. 18th century. Private collection. Detail. (Pic. 1a. Left: Photo: Sotheby’s. Pic. 1b. Right: Welch Collection)

 

An example of one such object is A Portrait of Raja Bhao Singh of Bundi, currently in a private collection. This portrait was sold in May 2006 by Sotheby’s, and its image is still available on the auctioneer’s website (1a. picture on the left). The Welch’s image, however, is obviously crisper and clearer in comparison, and its high resolution also allows for excellent close-ups (1b. picture on the right).

 

Side-by-side views of a miniature painting, illustrating detail visible only in the close up photos of the Welch collection. Full-view panel on left depicts a ruler sitting cross-legged on a platform surrounded by courtiers, with candles and wine set before him. Worshippers in the background gaze at the new moon from the flat rooftop of a tall building. The detail at right (Welch collection) reveals two young male courtiers in turbans and richly-embroidered clothing, praying with eyes closed and hands raised against a night sky.

Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527, private collection. Full view (Pic. 2a. Left ) and detail (Pic. 2b. Right). Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Another example is Celebration of ‘Id from a dispersed Divan of Hafez, which is a relatively well-known miniature held by the private Art and History Trust of the Soudavar family and seen in several publications, most notably on the cover of Abolala Soudavar’s large volume of Reassessing Early Safavid Art and History. The Welch collection, however, offers quite a different look at this miniature by providing an amazing level of detail in its forty five unique high-resolution images of the miniature’s different sections (2a – 2d).

 

Three gem-studded gold bottles with long elegant necks on an elaborately-decorated low hexagonal table.

Pic. 2c. Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527. Detail.  Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Woman in festive clothing with henna designs on her hands, peeking from behind a window curtain embroidered with gold dragons.

Pic. 2d. Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527, private collection. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Of particular interest to researchers are the privately-held works that are not currently available to the public at all, as well as those that are only in limited professional publications as mere descriptions or, at best, as poor quality black-and-white photographs. The Welch Collection will be the only accessible repository where researchers can examine these objects in detail and in color. The beautiful Safavid album drawing below entitled Seated Girl, ca. 1600, is in a private collection in London (pic. 3). It is signed by Habib-allah of Mashhad, one of the artists in the court of Shah ‘Abbas the Great at Isfahan (Iran), and is an example of Habib-allah’s “faultless line,” and the elegant, flowing ease of the Safavid drawings [1].

 

Ink drawing of a young woman seated outdoors on the ground, beneath orange and purple clouds. Possibly holding a pear. A shawl over her head and shoulders is held in place by a red headband decorated with a black feather just above the forehead. The figure is drawn in contour lines with light touch, while heavier ink highlights the face, eyebrows, and long wavy sidelocks.

Pic. 3. Habib-allah of Mashhad,  Seated Girl. c. 1600, private collection. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

While our Welch Collection holds only one, full view, digital representation of Seated Girl, another picture from a private collection in Cambridge, MA, entitled Chinese Ladies in a French Chateau Garden, has twelve associated detailed images. Indeed, this painting abounds in different subjects scattered all over that warrant a closer look. Painted in the early 1800s in India, it is attributed, at least partially, to a Mewar artist Chokha and, according to Andrew Topsfield, represents “an anthology of borrowed European and Far Eastern themes, deriving from French fashion prints and mid-18th century Chinese export paintings …” [2]. A single low-resolution full view of this painting is featured in Topsfield’s paper (pic. 4a), but it is Welch’s collection that lets you explore it closer in twelve hi-resolution images of details (pic. 4b-d).

 

Two ladies in a French garden, standing near a black table with a blue-and-white porcelain vase. One figure holds a flower pot and another a round Chinese fan. A chateau is seen in the background.

Pic. 4a. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Photo: Artibus Asiae.

 

Tree with pink flowers against rolling blue hills. A small white dragon curls around a branch looking down on a temple.

Pic. 4b. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Europeans in 18th century fashion, walking among flower beds.

Pic. 4c. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

A blue-and-white porcelain vase with curved handles and golden lid. The design on the vase depicts a European couple with dog.

Pic. 4d. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century. Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

A popular image of Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne exists in several versions, one of which is in a private collection. This particular painting with its beautiful margins featuring botanicals and birds is available through Wikimedia, but despite of its large size its details fall far behind the ones from of the Welch Collection (pic. 5b-d).

 

Two fowl birds, each in its own frame of dark twigs against gold background, looking at each other.

Pic. 5a. Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne. 1634–1635, India, private collection. Detail. Photo: Wikimedia.

 

High quality image of same bird painting revealing white spotted chest feathers , yellow eyes, rough paper texture, and other details.

Pic. 5b. Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne. 1634–1635, India, private collection. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Finally, we would like to share with you a preparatory study titled Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play from Stuart Cary Welch’s own private collection (pic. 6a-c). As a symbol of intellectual and mental strength in Hinduism and the Indian culture, elephants were a popular subject in Indian art. This baby elephant adorned with golden bells is painted with realism and grace characteristic of the Kotah drawing masters.

 

Four views of a cheerful gray baby elephant against a yellow background; three kneeling and one standing on hind legs, arranged in a circle. The elephant wears gold bells dangling off a thin white collar. Two small figures, possibly trainers, lunge in opposite directions in top right corner.

Pic. 6a. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–1730, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Full view. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Contour line drawing of lunging male figure with hands spread apart, wearing cloth around his waist. There’s a hint of light red on his undergarments and turban.

Pic. 6b. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–30, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

Profile of baby elephant with chin bristles, wrinkles in skin of extended trunk, and a pink tongue in a smiling mouth.

Pic. 6c. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–30, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.

 

To browse rare images from private collections assembled by Stuart Cary Welch, go to images.harvard.edu and in Advanced Search set Image Repository to “private collection” and Keyword Anywhere to “Welch”.

In subsequent blog posts in this series, we will continue talking about the different categories of images that one can find in the collection. As we continue to catalog these exciting (and open access!) images, we hope that whenever you search our collection, you will find just what you were looking for!

 

[1] Robinson, B. W. Picture Book of Persian Paintings. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1965, p. 17.

[2] Topsfield, Andrew. “Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar.” Artibus Asiae. Supplementum, Vol. 44, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar (2002), p. 230.

 

 

András Riedlmayer puts this war crime on the map

“… if you really want to make a librarian mad, burn down a library.”

András Riedlmayer, Bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard’s Fine Arts Library, made this comment when asked why he undertook his project to collect, preserve and publicize evidence of the destruction of cultural heritage in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The story about his work in the Balkans is profiled in the Harvard Gazette.

Riedlmayer testified at the UN war crimes tribunal (ICTY) in The Hague in the trials of 14 Serbian and Bosnian Serb officials, as an expert on cultural destruction in the Balkans. Among the defendants was former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević, accused of war crimes and genocide in Kosovo and Bosnia. Although Milošević died of a heart attack before the ICTY could deliver a verdict in his case, 11 of the others were convicted and sent to prison.

Read more about his ongoing efforts to preserve documentation on the cultural heritage of the Balkans and its fate in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, in the Harvard Gazette.

 

A young man squatting on the ground to pick up and look at torn and burned religious texts inside the village mosque, torched by Serbian soldiers in 1999. The man is photographed from the side, wearing a dark clothing. The ground is rabbled with pieces of concretes and debris. In the background, burned marks on the concrete wall is visible.

Carralevë, Kosovo. Agim Orllatë, a Kosovar Albanian university student who worked with Riedlmayer as an interpreter, looks at torn religious texts inside the village mosque, torched by Serbian soldiers in 1999. (Photo courtesy of András Riedlmayer)

 

Burned book of a Qur’an, opened to show its pages ripped from its binding and partially burned. The edges of book pages are burned.

Remains of a Qur’an, its pages ripped from its binding and partially burned, among the items collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

 

Riedlmayer looking down on a selection of damaged book pages laid out on the table in the office. He is wearing gloves to handle fragile remains of the torn books.

Riedlmayer selecting damaged book pages to be sent for an exhibition on cultural heritage and war, held at the Imperial War Museum in London in 2019. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

 

A selection of the damaged pages of books and manuscripts laid on a table. There are two rows and four columns of stacked pages.

A selection of the damaged pages of books & manuscripts collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. These damaged books were written in a number of languages: Arabic, Albanian, Ottoman Turkish, Bosnian, Serbian. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

 

A monthly church bulletin, written in Serbian, with partially burned marks. The cover of the bulletin includes a black and white image of religious painting. A couple of burned holes were made from the fire.

A partially burned monthly church bulletin from a Serbian Orthodox monastery chapel at Buzovik, Kosovo, targeted in a revenge attack by Kosovo Albanians after the end of the war. One of the items collected by Riedlmayer during his fieldwork in Kosovo in Oct. 1999. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

 

Close-up image of the cover of a damaged and desecrated book. The cover includes an ornate border, but the text is difficult to read due to the fire damage.

One of the damaged and desecrated books & manuscripts collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection – Pt. 4

This post is the fourth in a series about the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection written by the project’s staff and student catalogers in the Digital Images and Slides Collections of the Fine Arts Library.
Written by Nicolas Roth

 

The Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection is a great resource for research, and not just for art historians. A PhD candidate in the Department of South Asian Studies, I have had the privilege of working with the images in the collection as a student cataloger since the beginning of this year. Exploring Stuart Cary Welch’s often masterfully beautiful images of artwork and architecture from South Asia and the wider Islamic World is a joy in its own right. There are photographs of works not published elsewhere, and while these often present a frustrating challenge for us as catalogers, they are nonetheless a bit like buried treasure when one comes upon them. Yet even of comparatively well-known pieces the collection sometimes has better – clearer, brighter, higher-resolution – images than those available in printed publications or elsewhere online. Moreover, Welch frequently took detail shots of interesting features of a work; these are particularly valuable in the case of Indian and Iranian manuscript illuminations and album paintings, with their often small size but prodigious detail. However, the time spent with the collection has also turned out to be quite fruitful for my own research, and has resulted in ample visual material to weave into my dissertation.

 

Emperor Jahangir with Holy Men in a Garden

 

My project focuses on horticultural writing and garden culture in Mughal India – that is, the role of gardens and gardening in the intellectual and social life of early modern South Asia, and its reflection across a wide variety of literary genres. Images of gardens, horticultural practices, and plants in Mughal and Rajput paintings are an important complement to these texts, or even a set of texts in themselves. Take, for instance, the above painting of Mughal Emperor Jahangir in a garden by the court artist Abu’l Hasan, painted between 1615 and 1620. Not only does it reflect garden layout – a central watercourse, a pavilion set into the garden’s enclosing wall, rectangular, slightly sunken flowerbeds – but also an identifiable plant palette of Oriental plane trees and narcissi and irises in the flowerbeds. While all three of these plants frequently appear in Mughal painting as motifs inherited from Persian literature and Timurid pictorial tradition, their combined and realistic appearance here, in conjunction with the absence of any of the tropical plants frequently depicted in Mughal art, suggests that this is meant to be a garden in the temperate parts of the Mughal Empire in Kashmir or Afghanistan. The crowd of scholars and noblemen around Jahangir and the cauldron set up to prepare food point to the social use of gardens as a setting for various types of receptions, while the minutely detailed candles and torches indicate that this particular event is taking place at night.

 

Garden Scene from Album of Indian Paintings and Calligraphy

 

A similar level of detail can be discerned in this next scene above painted around the same time and now included in an album held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Here, however, the garden is only populated by three human figures: two gardeners, one with a spade and one with an animal skin filled with water, and a woman who has evidently been collecting flowers from the garden, as she is holding a bouquet in one hand and a leaf bowl of white blossoms in the other. The sunken beds in this garden are densely planted with trees, flowering shrubs, and some herbaceous flowers. In the background, a border of poppies is blooming brightly against a dense wall of trees. About a century later, an artist at the court of the Emperor Muhammad Shah produced a rendering of a garden that appears to synthesize all the features discussed in the elaborate garden set pieces of contemporary Indian literary works, such as these in a passage from a lengthy garden description in the Masnavī-i dilpazīr of Sa‘ādat Yār Khān ‘Rangīn’ (1757-1835), written in 1798:

Across from the central gate was a canal / Whose waves were no less than those of the Narmada River
All the way from the portico to there / Fountains were spouting forth from it

Cascades were falling from them / As if the rains of Sāvan and Bhādon were falling day and night
In front of them such showers came down / A cloud would be daunted coming before them
The trelliswork on both sides of the walkway / How can anyone describe it!
Having ordered sandalwood and ebony / And having had them split by craftsmen
Wooden pergolas were made / Like those in the squares of Kabul
Grapevines were made to grow all over them / So that no one be bothered by the sun
On both sides water was flowing / In this manner was this walk laid out

In the garden Muhammad Shah visits in the painting, watercourses adorned by impressive fountains run from the stately entrance gateway and an ornate, multi-storied pavilion set into the back wall of the garden to intersect at a square pool in its center. Borders of roses, poppies, marigolds, and other flowers line the paths along the watercourses, and wooden pergolas run along the walls of the garden on either side of the pavilion.

 

Muhammad Shah in a Garden

 

Muhammad Shah in a Garden, Detail 1

 

Muhammad Shah in a Garden, Detail 2

 

In Stuart Cary Welch’s detail shots, the grape vines trained over the trellises can be discerned particularly well, as can the exquisite detail of the flowering banana plants and campā trees in the row of trees at the very front of the painting. The latter is a type of magnolia, Magnolia champaca, with extremely fragrant yellow flowers which was much celebrated in Indian literary traditions, including in the Persian poetry produced in India by both Indian-born and Iranian émigré poets.

 

Fort Walls and Garden

 

Fort Walls and Garden_detail

 

The last work I chose to highlight, produced by Shaykh Taju at the Rajput court of Kota in Rajasthan in the mid-eighteenth century, is somewhat different from these Mughal works, and a bit of an oddity even for the Kota atelier. It consists of a schematic painting of a fort set at the edge of the lake. Only the walls and gates of the fort are sketched out, except for some lotuses blooming on the lake and a formal flower garden blazing with poppies and other herbaceous flowers within the fort walls. Hard to make out in full view images but very clear in one of Welch’s detail shots, a single banana plant rises amongst the flowers in one of the garden beds. This painting, though perhaps not quite as detailed and realistic as some of the previous examples, corresponds strikingly to a number of observations I make in my dissertation regarding a Sanskrit gardening manual. The Viśvavallabha of Cakrapāṇi Miśra, written around 1577 in the Kingdom of Mewar just to the west of Kota, stresses the planting of gardens inside forts, arguably in a reflection of local architectural realities. It is also unique among Sanskrit horticultural treatises in that it incorporates a number of temperate plants typical of Persianate gardens, many of them under their Persian names. Chief among these is the poppy, which predominates in the flower garden Shaykh Taju painted. The banana, meanwhile, is an Indian native and was a mainstay of Sanskrit gardening texts. As such, it became one of the first plants to be inserted in Persian gardening and farming manuals as they were recompiled and adapted for South Asia in the Mughal period. Shaykh Taju’s garden in its fort setting, then, exemplifies the convergence of textual and horticultural traditions my research traces in a single, poignant image, and serves as a perfect illustration to conclude one of my dissertation chapters.

Similar research possibilities await in the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection regarding myriad other topics. We strive to tag the image records thoroughly and strategically to make targeted searches as productive as possible. However, it is also worthwhile to just explore the collection. You never know what you might find.

Destruction of Memory: Film Screening

András Riedlmayer, UN war crimes tribunal expert witness and Bibliographer in in Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard’s Fine Arts Library, will be talking to Tim Slade, the film director and producer of The Destruction of Memory after the film screening on February 20th.

This film chronicles the destruction of culture in Syria, Mali, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and elsewhere from World War II to the present day. It also relates the heroic efforts to save landmarks and libraries from the ravages of war. Through interviews and documentary footage, the film shows how individuals have used law and policy and sometimes risked their lives to save world heritage. The post-screening conversation will be moderated by Bonnie Docherty from Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.


Destruction of Memory: Film Screening 

February 20, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Where: Wasserstein Hall (Harvard Law School)

WCC 1010  (https://hls.harvard.edu/about/campus-map-and-directions/)

1585 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Co-sponsored by the Armed Conflict & Civilian Protection Initiative and Islamic Legal Studies: Law and Social Change.  Dinner will be served.

Human Rights @ Harvard Law

András’ research interests include Ottoman history, Islamic art and culture in the Balkans, and the protection of cultural heritage under national and international law. He prepared many expert reports on the destruction of cultural heritage in Bosnia and Kosovo, and testified as an expert witness in nine trials at the ICTY and before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the genocide case Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro.

Please join us for the film screening and the conversations after the film. Dinner will be served.

 

Announcement: Explore our Stuart Cary Welch Islamic & South Asian Photograph Collection!

You’re invited to share in a project with us here at the Harvard Fine Arts Library: a digital humanities game using images of Islamic and South Asian art, with the chance to win an art publication of your choice, worth up to $150 USD!

For more information about The Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection, see the collection page on our website. The collection consists mostly of high-definition photographs of paintings and drawings, both famous and rare, but it also contains images of historical photographs, metalwork, and architecture.

The game is easy! Just register, then click through the images and add tags, separated by commas. Keywords are fine, but the most important details would be any deeper knowledge you can impart (language, style, rough time period/era, story/text identification, motifs, techniques, artist, repository, etc.)

At the end of each round, the participants will be entered into a drawing to win an art book of their choice valued up to $150 USD. NOTE: you do need to register for an account and play the game at least once in order to be entered into the prize drawing!! 

 

Register HERE (you’ll need to confirm your email)

…then access the game HERE!

 

The theme for this month is: 

The Natural World: Indian & Islamic Paintings and Drawings

 

 

A little taste of themes to come (new rounds will be announced on our Instagram page, @harvardfineartslibrary, so give us a follow!):

The Supernatural World (paintings and drawings)

The Real World (historical and architectural photographs)

Challenge round (Difficult! Metalwork, frontispieces, etc.)

 

Thanks so much, and we hope you enjoy exploring this exciting collection! If you don’t mind, we’d love your feedback after playing, which you can give via the short form here: https://goo.gl/forms/RLxkvvtmEc0d8A3c2. Have fun!

Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection – Pt. 3

 

This post is the third in a series about the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection written by the project’s staff and student catalogers in the Digital Images and Slides Collections of the Fine Arts Library.
Written by Logan Heiman

The Stuart Cary Welch South Asian Photograph Collection is a collection of over 60,000 35mm slide images of Islamic and Indian art, which documents artworks from the most prominent civilizations in the Islamicate world spanning the deserts of Uzbekistan all the way through to the Himalayas and onward to the Indian subcontinent. The credit for this collection belongs to its namesake. Stuart Cary Welch made use of his far-flung connections and influence as a renowned curator and art historian to document previously difficult-to-access artworks produced over the course of a millennium. While the Welch collection encompasses artworks of various forms and media in addition to architectural works, painted manuscripts constitute the heart of its contents.

Under the Mughal emperors such as Akbar (reigned 1556–1605), Jahangir (reigned 1605–1627), and Shah Jahan (reigned 1605–1627), royal patronage of the arts produced a great number of paintings, poetry, and exquisite manuscripts chronicling the sumptuous wealth and splendor of the court with its attendant rituals and ceremonies. Such manuscripts displayed the cosmopolitanism and erudition of the emperors for whom they were commissioned. This was also a golden age for Mughal architecture, particularly under Shah Jahan, who commissioned several large monuments including Taj Mahal.[i]

 

 

This detached folio from the Jahangirnameh (Memoirs of Jahangir) in the Aga Khan Museum depicts Jahangir appearing before his subjects from a jharoka, or balcony during the darshan ceremony, evoking the royal style of Hindu kings. The darshan ceremony, initiated by Akbar during his reign, emphasized the illuminating power of the emperor through ritual performance.[ii]

 

 

Other images convey not only the trappings of imperial wealth in the Mughal court, but also the social arrangements and hierarchy by which the emperor distinguished himself from the nobles and the nobles from the largely Hindu subjects of the empire. Take the example of this painting at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, depicting the Emperor Jahangir in the midst of a darbar. A darbar served an array of purposes including formal discussions of affairs of state and royal ceremonies. Here, Jahangir is seen in an audience hall surrounded by his son Prince Khurram (Shah Jahan) and grandson Prince Shah Shuja, along with courtiers. The position of the courtiers flanking the emperor denotes their privileged status following the strict protocol governing such ceremonies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet another defining feature of Mughal paintings is their striking realism. A painting from the Johnson Album housed in the British Library exemplifies the commitment of commissioned artists to extraordinary detail and naturalism. Jahangir championed this particular style, as reflected in this painting that depicts a hunter scaling a tree. The hunter, whose eyes are set on squirrels high up in the branches, is at the bottom of the tall tree with no shoes. His expression is determined and his right foot is already in climbing action. But, the squirrels above already know that he has no chance. They are going on with their usual business, ignoring the man below. The depictions of squirrels show that the artist spent quite a long time studying them, such that he could accurately capture their busy activities and movements during the autumn season.

 

 

 

 

 

The aforementioned images provide just a small glimpse of the artwork documented by Stuart Cary Welch during his long, path-breaking career. Works from the Mughal Empire have been showcased here, and future blog posts will cover the many other empires and societies in which these artworks were generated.

 

[i] Mughal Empire on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mughal_Empire (retrieved on 11/27/17)

[ii] Jahangir at the jharoka window of the Agra Fort, folio from Jahangirnameh (Memoirs of Jahangir) from Aga Khan Museum’s website: https://www.agakhanmuseum.org/collection/artifact/jahangir-jharoka-window-agra-fort-folio-jahangirnameh-memoirs-jahangir (retrieved on 11/27/17)

 

There will be an exhibit of the Welch Collection images at the Fine Arts Library at Littauer Center from January 22, 2018.

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