2010-2015: Doctoral Dissertation

P1040395

Attributed to Shafi Abbasi, c. 1660 (British Museum, 1922.316.01)

My doctoral dissertation focused on Persian and Indian flower paintings produced between the 16th and the 18th centuries and mounted in albums, also called muraqqa.

This study was centered on three research axis.
First, the analysis of pictorial practices, as well as the general evolution of floral forms on album pages. The taxonomic approach on flower paintings led to highlight regionalisms, but also depiction modes shared between Safavid (1501-1722), Afsharid (1736-1749) and Zand (1750-1794) Persia on one hand, and Mughal India (1526-1857) and Indian provincial courts on the other.

The second line of research focused on cultural and artistic exchanges between the East and the West. Many Persian and Indian flower paintings were copied from European printed herbaria and florilegia from the 15th and 16th centuries. The study of European input on these productions highlighted assimilation practices of foreign forms.

The third axis questionned the role held by flower paintings in muraqqa’. From the 15th century, flowers gradually spread to become omnipresent in the center of the pages, in the margins and on the bindings. Floral representations took various symbolic values linked to an abundant poetic corpus, but also to Persian, Indian or European patrons who commissioned these precious volumes.

This work holds several discussions such as concepts of copy and assimilation and the role of Indian and European patronage in 17th and 18th century India (among others), and suggests new attributions of anonymous drawings to the Persian painter Shafīʻ ʻAbbāsī.

I gave several lectures on my doctoral dissertation and related topics, the full list is available on my curriculum.

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Poppy, Mughal India, 17th c. British Museum (1955.10.8.026)