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By Alice Taylor

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

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Old Testament Miniatures: A Medieval Picture Book with 283 Paintings from the Creation to the Story of David (New York, 1969). Simpson, Marianna Shreve. " Studies in the History of Art 3% (1993): 104-21. 30 «• Book Arts of Isfahan Soudavar, Abolalar. Art of the Persian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection (New York, 1992). Welch, Anthony. Artists for the Shah: Late-Sixteenth-Century Painting at the Imperial Court of Iran (New Haven, 1976). " Iranian Studies 7 (1974)1458-507.

Blessed is he with a child in Zion. The "child in Zion" is the manuscript itself; through its colophon—called yishatakaran, literally, "place of memory"—it carries on the name and the memory of its owner, tying him to the saving powers of the Armenian Church. In obtaining and restoring old manuscripts, the merchants of Isfahan asserted a connection to Armenian communities of the past, many of them, significantly enough for the community in diaspora, communities that no longer existed in the seventeenth century, except in the memories of the Armenians who still treasured their works.

The restrained gestures and expressions of the figures are quite adequate to their tasks, and the delicate detail, which might distract from a dramatic narrative, invites the viewer to spend more time contemplating the image and its deeper meaning. Comparing this image with the later Judeo-Persian illumination reveals that the detail that lends earlier Persian illumination much of its charm has grown in scale, and figures, too, are larger, overshadowing the landscapes they inhabit. Royal Safavid manuscript illumination of the later seventeenth century generally shares these traits, but with significant differences in effect.

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