Into India

Lyric Visions

Illustrations of Persian Literature for the Cultured Elite.

In the court culture of Iran, especially from the fifteenth century onward, commissioning and collecting illustrated books was a sign of erudition and wealth. Since the Koran could not be illustrated, these books tended to be secular in nature: poetry, tales, encyclopedias, and scientific compendia. Connoisseurs of Persian art and literature, from Turkey to India and Central Asia, emulated the court culture of Iran and commissioned illustrated versions of the masterworks of Persian literature, often using local artists. This section presents paintings from the Binney Collection of scenes from six of the most popular epic and romantic works of the Persophone world.

Nushabeh receives the portrait of Iskandar

Nushabeh receives the portrait of Iskandar.
From an Iskandernama of the Khamsa («Adventures of Alexander from the Quintet») of Nizami

Iran, ca. 1475.
Opaque watercolor on paper.
34 x 9.84 cm
Gift of Edwin Binney 3rd, 1971.58

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