National Museum of Asian Art - Upcoming Programs: Vever's Persian Painting Collection (3/8) and The Craze for Safavid Carpets (3/15)

Lizzie Stein's picture
Subject Fields: 
Islamic History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, Humanities, Cultural History / Studies

The National Museum of Asian Art is pleased to announce two upcoming talks that are part of our online offerings leading up to the celebration of Nowruz.

On Tuesday, March 8 at 12 pm EST, please join us for “The Other Gems: Henri Vever’s Persian Painting Collection” with Massumeh Farhad. This talk is part of our monthly lunchtime series “Sneak Peek: New Research from the National Museum of Asian Art,” where staff members present brief, personal perspectives and ongoing research, followed by discussion.

A celebrated jeweler, a skilled draftsman, an avid bibliophile, and a devoted sportsman, Henri Vever (1854–1942) also amassed one of the most significant collections of Persian and Indian paintings, which is housed today in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the National Museum of Asian Art. By the time Vever became fascinated with Persian and Indian arts of the book in the early 1890s, he had already collected and sold an impressive group of Impressionist paintings and was enthusiastically collecting Japanese prints. Drawing on contemporaneous historical sources, including Vever’s own diaries and ledgers, this presentation will consider the jeweler’s career in fin de siècle Paris and the formation of one of the most outstanding holdings of Persian manuscripts and paintings in the early twentieth century. 

Massumeh Farhad is The Ebrahimi Family Curator of Persian, Arab, and Turkish Art, Chief Curator, and the Senior Associate Director for Research at the National Museum of Asian Art. She is a specialist in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century arts of the book from Iran. 

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The following Tuesday, March 15 at 12 pm EST, please join us again for “Fit for a Palace: The Craze for Safavid Carpets in Seventeenth-Century Europe” with Jessica Hallett.

In the fifteenth century, the city of Venice was the principal gateway for the arrival of highly valued knotted-pile carpets with geometric designs from the Ottoman Empire. When the Portuguese opened the sea route to India in 1498, Asian carpets became more accessible to consumers in Europe. In Iran, the Safavids decided to seize the opportunity and capture this new overseas market. A revolution occurred in Safavid production with the rise of an urban carpet industry that reacted swiftly, embarking on innovative changes to materials, colors, designs, and dimensions to compete with cheaper Turkish carpets. In Europe, a craze ensued as the elite looked to substitute their old-fashioned geometric carpets with new floral ones, turning the floors of their palaces into gardens. In this talk, Jessica Hallett, curator of the Middle East and China at the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, will address how the synergy between makers in Iran and consumers in Europe created this “craze.” 

Jessica Hallett was guest curator for Iraq and China: Ceramics, Trade and Innovation at the National Museum of Asian Art (2004). She has curated many exhibitions in Lisbon, since then, including The Oriental Carpet in Portugal at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (2007) and The Rise of Islamic Art at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (2019), both of which were awarded national prizes. Her publications include various academic articles and catalogues on ceramics, textiles, and carpets as well as the book Mamluk Glass in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (2000). She is currently preparing with Clara Serra a catalogue of Gulbenkian’s renowned carpet collection. 

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Contact Info: 

Lizzie Stein, Scholarly Programs and Publications