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Exhibitions | Past

Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan
October 21, 2011, through January 29, 2012

A Young Lady Reclining After a Bath
Leaf from the Read Persian Album
Herat (Afghanistan), 1590s
By Muhammad Mu’min
MS M.386.5. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911

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It may come as a surprise that in addition to its acclaimed collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, the Morgan is also home to important Islamic manuscripts dating from the late middle ages to the nineteenth century. Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan marks the first time the Morgan has gathered these spectacular volumes together in a single exhibition.

On view are such treasures as a thirteenth-century treatise on animals and their uses that is regarded by some experts as one of the greatest of all Islamic manuscripts, single illuminated pages, Qur'ans, and an illustrated treatise on astrology, wonders of the world, demonology, and divination.

A rare, illustrated translation of the life of Rumi, the celebrated Persian poet and mystic, reveals the special place of poetry in Persian culture. Also presented are six illustrated manuscripts of Nizami's Khamsa ("The Quintet"), which include depictions of the legendary tales of ill-fated lovers Laila and Majnun, the Persian Romeo and Juliet, as well as Iskander (Alexander the Great), and Bahram Gur and the Seven Princesses.

The centrality of the Qur'an to Islamic life is represented by a large mosque Qur'an that takes center stage at the beginning of the exhibition. The earliest Qur'ans—beautifully handwritten on vellum and in oblong format—are shown, along with later Qur'ans—on paper and in vertical format.

Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan is organized by William Voelkle, curator and head of the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts.

This exhibition is supported in part by a generous grant from The Hagop Kevorkian Fund and by the Janine Luke and Melvin R. Seiden Fund for Exhibitions and Publications.

Related Programs:

Rumi: Poet of the Heart; Sinan, A Divine Architect
Friday, October 28, 2011, 7 p.m.

Family Program
Qalam for Kids: Penning the Arabic Script
Saturday, October 29, 2011, 2–4 p.m.

A Rumi Night of Music and Poetry
Friday, November 04, 2011, 7:30 p.m.

Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam
Thursday, November 17, 2011, 6:30 p.m.

Gallery Talk
Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan
Friday, November 18, 2011, 7 p.m.

Adult Workshop
An Art of Measure and Harmony: The Arabic Letterform
Friday, December 09, 2011, 6:30–8:30 p.m.

Gallery Talk
Treasures of Islamic Manuscript Painting from the Morgan
Friday, January 13, 7 p.m.

Family program
Eastern Rhymes and Rhythms: A Family Concert
Saturday, January 21, 2–3 p.m.

« See all past exhibitions

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.