Prefacing the Image: The Writing of Art History in Sixteenth-Century Iran
This book studies developments in art historical writing and factors which shaped the album preface. The prefaces were written in Persian between ca. 1491 and 1609 to introduce albums of calligraphy, painting, and drawing assembled for Safavid rulers and courtiers. Approaches to the study of these sources are examined, followed by an analysis of the sociohistorical court-centered context; the circumstances of the texts' composition, reception, and literary dimensions; and their art historical formation and content. It ends with an interpretation of calligrapher Dust Muhammad's preface and his conceptualization of a history and aesthetics of depiction.The book is the first to study the prefaces collectively and in relationship to other cultural practices. It also draws on a wide variety of additional primary sources. It includes forty illustrations and several tables.
David J. Roxburgh, Ph.D. (1996) in History of Art, University of Pennsylvania, is Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University. He has published on arts of the book and albums, mainly form Iran and Central Asia.