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Lacquer, Lithography, and Photography: Image-Making in 19th-Century Iran

`Abbas Shirazi, Pen Box with European Woman and Eagles in Medallions, Iran, 1878–79. Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, 2014.355.


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

This lecture was recorded. Please view it here.

The 19th century was an era of heightened image-making in Iran. Stimulated and challenged by developments both inside and outside their country, Iranian artists mastered new image technologies and readily assimilated an unprecedented influx of pictorial material from abroad into their historical art forms. As the century unfolded, the new Qajar dynasty (c. 1779–1925) sought to unify a country torn by civil war, even as the outside world increasingly intruded on Iranian affairs.

In this evening’s program, Mary McWilliams, the Norma Jean Calderwood Curator of Islamic and Later Indian Art at the Harvard Art Museums; Farshid Emami, assistant professor of art at Oberlin College; and Mira Xenia Schwerda, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University, will examine the mobility of images and aesthetic effects across media and the development of new audiences for the visual arts in Qajar Iran. Their scholarship was central to the related exhibition Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, on view from August 26, 2017 to January 7, 2018.

The lecture will take place in Menschel Hall, Lower Level. Please enter the museums via the entrance on Broadway. Doors will open at 5:30pm.

Free admission, but limited seating is available. Tickets will be distributed beginning at 5:30pm at the Broadway entrance. One ticket per person.

Following the program, the exhibition Technologies of the Image will be open for one hour.

Complimentary parking available in the Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge.

Support for this lecture is provided by The Norma Jean Calderwood Lecture Fund. The Norma Jean Calderwood Lecture Fund honors a longtime friend of the Harvard Art Museums who pursued graduate study in Islamic art at Harvard and who for many years taught Islamic and Asian art at Boston College and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.