13 mars 2023
Iran Encounters the West:
17th-century Persian Painting under the Safavid Dynasty
with Negar Habibi, PhD, University of Geneva
The encounters of Iran (ancient Persia) and the West, the story of attraction and repulsion between the two, of mutual cultural influence and reciprocal trade, have been the subject of many scholarly publications. The Iran of today is closely linked, in its cultural, religious and political make-up to one of the great Perso-Islamic empires of the past, the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736). The Safavids first established Shiism as the state religion by tinting it with Sufism, redefining Persian identity vis-à-vis their Sunni Muslim rivals and also the Western Christian countries.
The Persian encounters with Europeans are the intriguing subject of many paintings from the second half of the 17th century. Our lecture offers a new reading of these, and the way Persians regarded foreigners as eminently exotic. We will present Persian portrayals of Christian women and paintings of the Persian royal court and we will see how they define the historical, religious and social identities of patrons and artists in this fascinating period of cultural exchange between East and West.
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