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Connecting with Islamic Art at the Metropolitan

Deniz Beyazit, Assistant Curator, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012

«Islamic art, architecture, and cultural traditions are closely related to other artistic movements around the world. In conjunction with the opening of the new Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia, which house works from the Met's Department of Islamic Art, I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight related objects from the Museum's other curatorial departments.»

American Wing



     Tile, ca. 1882–84
     Made by J. and J. G. Low Art Tile Works (American, 1877–1907)
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Purchase, Bequest of Adeline R. Brown, by exchange, 1977

    This interlaced, star-like composition is a typical pattern
    of Islamic geometric ornament.

Mowbray; Harem Scene

     Henry Siddons Mowbray (American, 1858–1928)
     Harem Scene, ca. 1884–1900
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Gift of Edward D. Adams, 1926 (26.158.3)

    This American Orientalist painting depicts a Harem scene—
    part of the private domestic sphere—showing three
    women set in an architectural theme decorated with furniture
    and objects inspired from the Islamic world.



Ancient Near Eastern Art


Sasanian Plate

     Plate, ca. 5th century A.D.
     Iran; Sasanian
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994 (1994.402)

    This silver plate depicts a hunting scene from the tale of the
    Sasanian king Bahram Gur and his musician Azada, whose
    narrative and iconography are strongly represented within
    the eastern Islamic world.


Arms and Armor


Spanish helmet

     Helmet, late 15th century
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     From the Lord Astor of Hever Collection Purchase,
     The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 1983 (1983.413)

    This helmet is inlaid with enamels from Nasrid-Muslim Spain.


Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas


Sumatran headdress

     Woman's Headdress, 19th–early 20th century
     Indonesia, Sumatra
     Minangkabau people
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 1988 (1988.143.120)

    This headdress, and the bracelet below, were created by 
    the Minangkabau, an Islamic people from Sumatra.

Woman's Bracelet

     Woman's Bracelet, 19th–early 20th century
     Indonesia, Sumatra
     Minangkabau people
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Gift of Fred and Rita Richman, 1988 (1988.143.121)


Asian Art



     Ewer, late 7th–first half of the 8th century
     China; Tang dynasty (618–907)
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Gift of Stanley Herzman, in memory of Gladys Herzman, 1997 (1997.1.2)

    This Chinese ewer demonstrates the sancai or three-glaze
    technique, which inspired early Islamic splashed ware. While
    the three-color glaze may have inspired Islamic potters, the
    ewer's shape was actually inspired by earlier Western or West
    Asian (Sassanian, Byzantine, Roman?) forms.


The Costume Institute



     Mariano Fortuny (Spanish, 1871–1949)
     Robe, early 20th century
     House of Fortuny (Italian, founded 1906)
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Gift of Mrs. Francis Coleman and Mrs. Charles H. Erhart Jr., 1975

    The alternating tulips and pine cones on this early
    twentieth-century robe are typical motifs of Ottoman art.


Drawings and Prints


Jacopo Ligozzi

     Jacopo Ligozzi (Italian, 1547–1627)
     A Janissary "of War" with a Lion, 1547–1627
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1997 (1997.21)

    Janissaries were infantry units that formed the Ottoman sultan's
    household troops and bodyguards.


Egyptian Art



     Sphinx of Hatshepsut, ca. 1473–1458 B.C.
     New Kingdom, Dynasty 18
     Joint reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Rogers Fund, 1931 (31.3.166)

    The sphinx is a popular theme in medieval Islamic art.


European Paintings


Vermeer's Maid Asleep

     Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675)
     A Maid Asleep, 1656–57
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913 (14.40.611)

    Vermeer's sleeping maid sits at a table that is covered with
    a Turkish carpet.


European Sculpture and Decorative Art


Ewer and Basin

     Ewer and Basin (Lavabo Set), ca. 1680–85
     Moldovan, Probably made at Chisinau Court Workshop
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Wrightsman Fund, 2005 (2005.62.1, .2a, b)

    This ewer and basin (lavabo set) comes from the Ottoman
    Balkans. It was once owned by Prince Dimitri Cantemir of 
    Moldavia, "tribute" hostage at the Istanbul court for eleven
    years, where he was educated and called one of the most
    important early "Western" scholars of the Ottoman culture.


Greek and Roman Art



     Glass flask in the form of a fish
     Roman, 3rd century A.D.
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Bequest of Mary Anna Palmer Draper, 1914 (15.43.168)

    Zoomorphic glass flasks continued to be produced in early 
    Islamic Egypt and Syria.


The Robert Lehman Collection



     Pilgrim flask, ca. 1500–1525
     Italian (Venetian)
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
     Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.1167)

    This pilgrim flask's flattened, ovoid body typifies a form that
    was very common in medieval Islamic Syria, from which it
    may have been inspired.


Medieval Art and The Cloisters



     Master working for Abd al-Rahman III (r. 912–961)
     Pyx, ca. 950–75
     Spanish, Made in Córdoba
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
     The Cloisters Collection, 1970 (1970.324.5)

    This Spanish pyx was made in Córdoba during the rule of the
    Umayyad caliph Abd al-Rahman III (r. 912–961).


Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art


Matisse Odalisque

     Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
     Odalisque with Gray Trousers, 1927
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
     The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection,
     Gift of Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, 1997
     Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002 (1997.400)
     © 2011 Succession H. Matisse /
     Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    This painting is part of a series devoted to the odalisque, here
    shown lying in an interior scene decorated with objects from
    the Islamic world.


Musical Instruments



     Kamanche, ca. 1869
     Iran (Persia)
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
     The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889 (89.4.325)

    The kamānche is a Persian bowed string instrument that is
    widely used in the classical music of the eastern Islamic world.
    Its appearance in the tenth century preceded European versions
    by one hundred years.




Lion Court, Alhambra

     Charles Clifford (Welsh, 1819–1863)
     [The Lion Court at the Alhambra], 1862
     The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,
     Gift of C. David and Mary Robinson, 2007 (2007.250.2)

    This photograph shows one of the masterpieces of Islamic
    architecture, the famous Alhambra in Spain.


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About the Author

Deniz Beyazit is the assistant curator in the Department of Islamic Art.

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