Friday lates: The painted lives of the Safavid Dynasty of Iran
Time: 18:00 - 19:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: VB133
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
In this Friday evening art history class we will study some of the highest achievements of 16th century Persian miniature painting, produced in the royal library workshops of the Safavid Shah Tahmasp and his nephew Ibrahim Mirza.
We will study the workings of the influential Tabriz workshops where Shah Tahmasp nurtured some of the finest artists of the age, including Masters Bihzad and Sultan Muhammad. As a team they created masterpieces of narrative book-illustration for the Iranian epic the Shah Nama or Book of Kings, as well as for classics of Persian literature such as the Khamsa of Nizami. Their impact spread throughout major centres of art in Iran and beyond by artists trained under the formative masters, making the 16th century one of the high points of Persianate art.
We will look at colour, composition, technique and imagery, understanding how symbolism and layers of metaphor in the paintings relate to the literature they illustrate as well as to the world of the Safavid Dynasty.
Many of the paintings that we examine in this session will be on display in the V&A exhibition “Epic Persia”, making this short course an ideal opportunity to become more familiar with the work and how it was produced.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The social and political context in which the illustrated books were produced.
• An introduction to the Persian literature that the paintings illustrate.
• Key personalities of the royal library workshops and how they worked.
• The materials and pigments used in the production of the paintings.
• The impact the painters and their body of work made further afield.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss the formation of the Safavid school, naming some principal patrons and artists.
• Describe the stories and literature illustrated by the paintings.
• Identify some of the colours that make up the artists’ palette.
• Give two examples of the wider impact of Safavid miniature painting. #epiciran #V&A.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught online with slide presentations and group discussions. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course; these handouts will be available online/digitally for download, not printed out for you.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class. You might want to purchase a ticket for the V&A “Epic Iran” exhibition.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
• VB524: Friday lates: the East India Company and the passion for chintz
• VB438: Arts of the empire-builders: Timurids, Safavids and Mughals
• VB709: Friday lates: Islamic art at the British Museum.
Anita Chowdry is a London based visual artist, educator and researcher. Her particular interest is in the arts of the Islamic World and South Asia, and the materials and processes that went into them. She has an M.A. in Art and Science from Central Saint Martin’s UAL, and is currently engaged in the codicological study of a group of 15th Century Turcoman manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Anita has over 30 years’ experience teaching art and process to adults and professional groups, covering major institutions in the UK and abroad.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.