By Alice Taylor

Released to coincide with an exhibition on the J.Paul Getty Museum, this publication explores the colourful creative legacy of the capital urban of the Safavid Empire in seventeenth-century Persia. Isfahan used to be a crossroads of foreign exchange and international relations and, accordingly, grew to become a kaleidoscope of resident languages and religions. The artists of the town have been remarkably attentive to the actual and mental range of its many peoples: Armenians, Uzbeks, Turks, Christians, and Jews. So specified was once their process that paintings historians now recognize an Isfahan type. Book Arts of Isfahan brings jointly dozens of miniatures, such a lot of them drawn from the collections of the Getty Museum, the collage of California, l. a., and the l. a. County Museum of paintings. With Alice Taylor's concise and readable textual content, they supply a good evaluate of the books and manuscripts produced within the Isfahan sort.

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20 «• Book Arts of Isfahan PLATE 5 An Armenian Bishop Isfahan, ca. 1650. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Nasli M. Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Joan Palevsky, M. 45 6. "Isfahan Style" Miniatures • 21 and the artist presents them to us in all their curious detail: the gold-brocaded, royal blue miter; the flowing, velvety-black cloak lined in yellow; the blue robe with gold floral pattern, falling in the open waves characteristic of fine silk. Images in Armenian manuscripts confirm that Armenian bishops sported this rich wardrobe in the seventeenth century.

In this context, it is crucial to note that Judeo-Persian illustrated manuscripts were not central to Jewish religious life. Judeo-Persian illustration was basically a secular pursuit, like most Persian manuscript illustration, and it reveals how a strongly Jewish community could also conceive of itself as Persian. Judeo-Persian illustrated books include copies of Persian classics in Hebrew script, as well as original creations. Although most of the illustrated stories center on Jewish characters, they often come directly out of the main Persian literary tradition.

The similarities "Isfahan Style" Miniatures * 17 PLATE 3 A Captive Uzbek Isfahan, ca. 1610, or a slightly later Turkish copy. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Edwin Binney, 3rd Collection of Turkish Art, M. 237-28. 18 Book Arts of Isfahan FIGURE 4 A Turkish Lady Probably Isfahan, early seventeenth century. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Nasli M. 477. FIGURE 5 An Indian Maiden Standing Under a Willow Tree by Shaikh 'Abbasi. Probably Isfahan, 1647. , The Art and History Trust Collection.

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