Persian Carpets and Renaissance Revivals: A Cross-Cultural Itinerary

6:00pm, 3 May 2018

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

This talk will trace the history and fate of a prominent Safavid (16th century) medallion carpet. The piece had been traded to Europe probably at some point in Early Modern history, was purchased in Venice in the late 19th century by Renaissance connoisseur and museum man Wilhelm Bode, was displayed as one of the core pieces of the “Persian-Islamic Department” of the Berlin Museums after 1904, destroyed during the Second World War, and resurrected by means of restoration and publication in the 1950s. The itinerary of this textile on the one hand reflects the central—at times ideological—position of Persian culture within an emerging canon of Islamic arts during the first half of the 20th century. On the other hand, its material history of discovery, display, destruction and reconstruction challenges the teleological notion that is inherent to many cross-cultural museum collections.


Dr. Eva-Maria Troelenberg is currently head of the Max-Planck-Research Group “Objects in the Contact Zone – the Cross-Cultural Lives of Things” at Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institute. Her dissertation on the exhibition “Masterpieces of Muhammadan Art” in Munich in 1910 has been awarded with the Hochschulpreis of Landeshauptstadt München. She has taught Islamic and Global Art History at the Universities of Munich, Heidelberg, Vienna, and Zürich. In June 2017, she was invited as GLASS-Islam fellow at the University of Leiden. From spring 2018, she will hold the chair for modern and contemporary art history at Utrecht University. Her publications include the edited special issue of Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz Visualizing Otherness in Modern Italy (2017);  the monograph Mshatta in Berlin – Keystones of Islamic Art (Connecting Art Histories in the Museum 1), Dortmund 2016, as well as the journal contributions “Drawing Knowledge, (Re-)Constructing History: Pascal Coste in Egypt”, in: International Journal of Islamic Architecture 4/2 (2015), 287-313 and “Arabesques, Unicorns and Invisible Masters: The Art Historian’s Gaze as symptomatic Action?”, in: Muqarnas 32 (2015), 213-232.

Iran Re-search / The Bahari Foundation Lectures on Art and Culture is a new annual lecture series inviting practicing artists, curators and scholars to think afresh about the trajectories of knowledge production on material and visual cultures of Iran. The Iran Re-search Bahari Lecture Series aims to foreground transdisciplinary and cross-temporal approaches, considering as wide a range as contemporary arts and the antiquities of Iran.


Bahari Lecture