Oberlin College and Conservatory

Portraiture in Safavid Iran

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 5:30pm to 6:30pm

Norman C. Craig Lecture Hall, Science Center
119 Woodland Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

Please join the art department for Sheila Canby’s lecture, Portraiture in Safavid Iran. Canby is the residing Patti Cadby Birch Curator in charge of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Department of Islamic Art.

Over the 221-year course of the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1722), the aims and style of portraits painted by court artists evolved markedly. This lecture will consider the reasons for this change and what the word “portrait” meant to those who were producing them and those who observed them.

While some figures in manuscript illustrations appear to be portraits of Safavid personages in the guise of ancient Iranians, others in album pages are labeled as specific individuals even when they appear to modern eyes to be generic figures of their day.

As the influence of European prints and painting grew, so did the knowledge of pictorial techniques that enabled artists to depict individual physiological traits with increasingly specificity.

However, along with these technical changes came an apparent shift in attitudes and a growing embrace of verisimilitude, so portraits became actual likenesses of those being portrayed.

This event is presented with support from the Art History Baldwin Lectures Endowment.

Event Type

Arts, Lectures/Symposia/Workshops


Academic, Art

Contact Person

Farshid Emami

Contact Phone Number


Contact E-mail Address


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