Persian Ideal

Isabelle Gadoin
Published September 10, 2021 by Routledge
(Copyright Year 2022)
226 Pages 10 Color & 34 B/W Illustration
ISBN 9780367766023

Book description : 

This book examines British collectors of so-called Persian art (a broad umbrella term then covering a large portion of Islamic art) in the late 19th century, including ceramics, metalwork, carpets, textiles and woodwork.

Based on a foundational event, the very first exhibition of “Persian and Arab Art” held by a London Gentlemen’s Club in 1885, this book follows one generation of men, retracing the subtle shades of difference among “amateurs,” “connoisseurs,” “experts” and “collectors,” and exploring all the mechanisms of the construction of a collective fascination for the Orient. Isabelle Gadoin uncovers some of the first “scientific” analyses of Islamic objects and of the first private notebooks or exhibition catalogues, to provide an in-depth study of the way Westerners talked about Islamic objects and began to define what would become Islamic art history. All the while, Gadoin unravels the skein of Western prejudice, Romantic fancy, sincere admiration and ruthless appropriation, in art collecting, to write a new chapter of Orientalist history.

The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, history of collecting, colonialism and postcolonialism, and Orientalism.

Table of contents


1. Victorian Travellers to Iran: Discoverers or Plunderers?

2. Setting Down the Bases of a New Discipline: The First Analyses of Islamic Art

3. The 1885 Exhibition of « Persian and Arab Art »

4. A New Sociology of Collecting

5. Islamic Objects at Home Conclusion

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