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Design

1877 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This colourful painting was traced from decorative tilework on a building in Isfahan, in 1877. A series of 39 designs was commissioned on behalf of the V&A (then the South Kensington Museum), in order to record this astonishing aspect of the sacred architecture of Safavid Iran, rendered in full scale and in colour. Robert Murdoch Smith and Ernst Hoeltzer, both of whom worked for the Anglo-Persian Telegraph Department, hired a team of Isfahani contractors to produce the paintings, which required "light scaffolding and other mechanical appliances" to reach difficult areas. The designs are painted onto sized paper fixed onto plain canvas, and show the tiled surfaces of walls, window-panels, arches, rib-vaults and even domes, copied from six different religious monuments. The decorative repertoire features a characteristic range of flowers, foliate scrollwork, ogival medallions and lobed cartouches, usually set against a blue background. Although the project was discussed as the documentation of historic Safavid architectural design from the early 17th century, one of the surveyed monuments was very much contemporary: the Masjid-e Sayyid which was built for a powerful landowning family of clerics, known as the Agayan-e Masjid-e Shah.


object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Recorded in original registers as oil paintings on thick calico
Brief Description
Middle East, Painting. Design, painted sized paper mounted on canvas, triangular dome gore with white foliate scrollwork and thinner pale blue scrollwork against dark blue ground, with yellow-ground shamsa medallion at the tip, traced from the interior dome of the 1829-1881 Qajar mosque Masjid-e Sayyid, Isfahan, Iran, 1877
Physical Description
Colour designs painted in tempera onto sized paper, mounted on sized cotton canvas
Dimensions
  • Length: 10.30m
  • Width: 2.235m
Style
Object history
"Interior (1/16) of Dome of the Mosque called Masjed-i-Seyyid at Bidabad, Ispahan", description provided in List of oil paintings on thick calico (natural size) of designs in ornamental mosaic tile work in the principal Safavean buildings at Ispahan (submitted by Robert Murdoch Smith to the Museum in December 1877).
Association
Summary
This colourful painting was traced from decorative tilework on a building in Isfahan, in 1877. A series of 39 designs was commissioned on behalf of the V&A (then the South Kensington Museum), in order to record this astonishing aspect of the sacred architecture of Safavid Iran, rendered in full scale and in colour. Robert Murdoch Smith and Ernst Hoeltzer, both of whom worked for the Anglo-Persian Telegraph Department, hired a team of Isfahani contractors to produce the paintings, which required "light scaffolding and other mechanical appliances" to reach difficult areas. The designs are painted onto sized paper fixed onto plain canvas, and show the tiled surfaces of walls, window-panels, arches, rib-vaults and even domes, copied from six different religious monuments. The decorative repertoire features a characteristic range of flowers, foliate scrollwork, ogival medallions and lobed cartouches, usually set against a blue background. Although the project was discussed as the documentation of historic Safavid architectural design from the early 17th century, one of the surveyed monuments was very much contemporary: the Masjid-e Sayyid which was built for a powerful landowning family of clerics, known as the Agayan-e Masjid-e Shah.
Bibliographic Reference
Moya Carey, Persian Art. Collecting the Arts of Iran for the V&A (London: V&A, 2018) pp.132-151.
Collection
Accession Number
645-1878

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record createdJune 25, 2009
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