While J. Pierpont Morgan’s private collection of illuminated manuscripts focused on Christian Europe, he also purchased non-Western items. His personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, championed such acquisitions beginning in the 1910s. In 1924, when the Morgan became a public institution and Greene was appointed its first director, she continued to seek out pieces to represent the greatest traditions in the world of book arts. This passion also extended to her private collection, which included Persian and Arabic manuscripts.
The development of the Morgan’s collection of manuscripts from beyond Europe has continued throughout the subsequent decades, in no small part thanks to generous gifts from benefactors. The leaves on display here showcase one such gift. Donated by William M. Voelkle, curator emeritus of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, these strikingly colorful illuminations represent iconographic traditions from Persia and the Indian subcontinent.
For more on the collection of Indian and South Asian miniatures, visit this page.