Eighteenth-century Persianate Albums Made in India: Audiences – Artists – Patrons and Collectors (Berlin, 15-17 Sept 2021, CEST)

Friederike Weis's picture

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September 15, 2021 to September 17, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Islamic History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies

The workshop will be held as a blended format with a mix of online and on-site presentations at the Museum of Asian Art and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin. You are cordially invited to join all presentations via webex. Admission Free – All Welcome

To join the event online please click here (Time listed is CEST – Central European Summer Time):

DAY 1 (15 Sept): 3.00 pm – 6.20 pm                   


DAY 2 (16 Sept): 9.30 am – 4.30 pm


DAY 3 (17 Sept): 9.45 am – 3.30 pm


If you wish to attend the workshop in person, please note that the number of seats at both venues is limited. Advance registration for on-site attendance is essential: f.weis@smb.spk-berlin.de

The workshop will address the role of Indo-Persianate albums (muraqqaʿs) that were assembled for or collected by the Mughal governors of Awadh (Uttar Pradesh), Shujaʿ al-Daula (r. 1754–1775) and his successor, Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775-1797), as well as other local elites in Bengal and Bihar. Europeans also participated in the creation and consumption of albums, as patrons and collectors. In 1882, the Prussian State acquired a group of twenty albums from the twelfth Duke of Hamilton; so far, these artworks have received little study. Eight of them belonged to the Scottish surgeon and interpreter Archibald Swinton (1731–1804) and ten to the Franco-Swiss engineer-architect Antoine Louis Henri Polier (1741–1795) – both were Company officers deeply acquainted with Indo-Persian aristocratic culture. Many more albums are linked to well-known European figures, such as the Governor-General of Bengal Warren Hastings (1732–1818) and the French Company officer (and special agent to Shujaʿ al-Daula in Faizabad) Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil (1726–1799). Numerous interrelated questions arise from the study of this material, concerning audiences, artists, patrons, collectors and their wish to produce and preserve knowledge; these questions are to be discussed in this workshop.


Wednesday, 15 September 2021: Museum für Asiatische Kunst (staff entrance), Takustrasse 40

3.00 pm (CEST)

Raffael Gadebusch (Berlin): Welcome

3.15 pm (CEST)

Friederike Weis (Berlin): Welcome and Introduction

Session I: Poliers Albums and Manuscripts: Contents and Contexts  Chair: Friederike Weis

3.50 pm (CEST)

Susan Stronge (London): Collecting the Mughal Past

4.30 pm  Break

5.00 pm (CEST)

Malini Roy (London): Blurred Lines: Looking at the Paintings by the Artist Mihr Chand and Determining the Boundaries between Innovation, Imitation or Intentional ‘Duplication’

5.40 pm (CEST)

Firuza Abdullaeva-Melville (Cambridge): Three Highlights of Polier’s Collection from Cambridge: Treasures or Leftovers

Thursday, 16 September 2021: Museum für Asiatische Kunst (staff entrance), Takustrasse 40

Session II: Patrons, Collectors and Compilation Strategies  Chair: Susan Stronge

9.30 am (CEST)

Emily Hannam (Windsor): Fit for a King? Two Late Mughal Albums in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle

10.10 am (CEST)

Axel Langer (Zurich): Obvious or Hidden Narratives in the Large Clive Album

10.50 am Break

11.20 am (CEST)

J.P. Losty (Sussex): Archibald Swintons Indian Paintings and Albums – an Analysis

12.00 pm Lunch Time

Session III: Recurrent Themes and Tropes in Indo-Persianate Albums  Chair: Laura Parodi

1.20 pm (CEST)

Katherine Butler Schofield (London): Performing Women in the Polier and Plowden Albums: Pursuing Khanum Jan

2.00 pm (CEST)

Molly Aitken (New York): Intoxicating Friendships: Figuring Classical Indian Aesthetic Regimes in Mughal Album Painting

2.40 pm  Break

3.10 pm (CEST)

Yuthika Sharma (Edinburgh): Topography as Mughal Utopia? Polier’s ‘Garden Series’ and Artistic Exchange in 18th-century Periphery-Centre Imagination

3.50 pm (CEST)

Anastassiia Botchkareva (New York): Tropes and Outliers: Tracing Patterns of Iconography in the Polier Albums

Friday, 17 September 2021: Archäologisches Zentrum (Administrative Offices of the Museum für Islamische Kunst), Brugsch-Pascha-Saal, Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 2-6

9.45 am (CEST)

Stefan Weber / Deniz Erduman-Çalış (Berlin): Welcome

Session IV: Calligraphy in the Berlin Albums: Historicism and Contemporary Mughal Masters  Chair: Axel Langer

10.00 am (CEST)

Claus-Peter Haase (Berlin): The Calligraphies of the 16th-17th Centuries in the Berlin Albums – Reflections on their Origins and Purpose in a Muraqqaʿ

10.40 am (CEST)

Will Kwiatkowski (Berlin): Expanding the Canon – Mir Muhammad Husayn ʿAta Khan and the Polier Albums

11.15 am Break

Session V: Indian Muraqqaʿs Collected by Europeans: Networks and Relationships  Chair: Deniz Erduman-Çalış

11.50 am (CEST)

Laura Parodi (Genova): Allegory and Verisimilitude in Later Indian Albums

12.30 pm (CEST)

Isabelle Imbert (Manchester): Like a Garden Bedecked: Floral Margins in 18th-century Awadhi Albums Produced for European Patrons

1.10 pm Lunch Time

2.20 pm (CEST)

Yael Rice (Amherst, MA): The London Market for South Asian Muraqqaʿs and the Hastings Albums

3.00 pm Final discussion

Contact Info: 

Organiser: Friederike Weis (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Takustrasse 40, 14195 Berlin)  The event is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Contact Email: