Art

Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers


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Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers
Architectural Element
Persian
,
13th-14th century
Ilkhanid period
Creation Place: Kashan, Iran
Fritware painted with blue (cobalt) and luster (copper and silver) over white
lead alkali glaze opacified with tin
23.2 x 21 cm (9 1/8 x 8 1/4 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
, 2002.50.125
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
,
Description
This fragmentary tile, reassembled from four pieces, depicts a narrative scene closely related to those in contemporary and later manuscript paintings.Through an archway, a couple is shown in bed under a patterned cover. A tall candle in a plaited metal candlestick illuminates the interior of the room, and a similarly ornamented ewer appears further to the right. The partially visible bow and arrows likely belong to the man and indicate his princely activities. The fish at the bottom of the scene and the flowers sprouting above the couple create a dreamlike ambience. A figure, likely a servant, stands at left, perhaps outside the room. Bordering the scene, a Persian inscription, reserved in white on a blue ground, is partially legible. Starting at the break on the left, it reads,
. . . wings were broken.
. . . from the prince, felicity came to me.
Even if fate is not auspicious, give in to
your destiny.
Eight-pointed star tiles like this one were combined with other tiles of cruciform shape to create shimmering revetments for palaces and religious buildings. Although figural tiles were used in both secular and religious contexts, the intimate nature of the scene depicted here would have made this tile more appropriate for a palace interior.
Provenance
[Charles D. Kelekian, New York]. Lester Wolfe, New York, (by 1975), sold; through [Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., New York, 14 March 1975, lot 122]; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1975-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Bibliography
Holly Salmon, "A Comparative Analysis of Lusterware from the Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art", (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, June 2003), Unpublished, pp. 1-54 passim

Mary McWilliams, Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2004)

Jessica Chloros, "An Investigation of Cobalt Pigment on Islamic Ceramics at the Harvard Art Museums", (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2008), Unpublished, pp. 1-41 passim

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., ed. Mary McWilliams Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 18, ill.; pp. 54-56, ill.; p 194, cat. 37, ill.

Exhibition History
Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005
In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013