CONF: Eighteenth-century Persianate Albums Made in India (online, 15-17 Sep 2021)

Musical and dance performance in the harem, from an Indo-Persianate album of Antoine Louis Polier, I 4594, fol. 19, Delhi or Faizabad before 1777 
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Islamische Kunst / Johannes Kramer

Hybrid Workshop: Eighteenth-century Persianate Albums Made in India: Audiences – Artists – Patrons and Collectors
Museum of Asian Art and Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, Sep 15–17, 2021

The workshop will be held as a blended format with a mix of online and on-site presentations at the Museum of Asian Art and the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin.

You are cordially invited to join all presentations via webex. Admission Free – All Welcome

To join the event online please click here (Time listed is CEST – Central European Summer Time):

DAY 1 (15 Sept): 3.00 pm – 6.20 pm

DAY 2 (16 Sept): 9.30 am – 4.30 pm

DAY 3 (17 Sept): 9.45 am – 3.30 pm

We anticipate that the event will be recorded.

If you wish to attend the workshop in person, please note that the number of seats at both venues is limited. Advance registration for on-site attendance is essential:

The workshop will address the role of Indo-Persianate albums (muraqqaʿs) that were assembled for or collected by the Mughal governors of Awadh (Uttar Pradesh), Shujaʿ al-Daula (r. 1754–1775) and his successor, Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775-1797), as well as other local elites in Bengal and Bihar. Europeans also participated in the creation and consumption of albums, as patrons and collectors. In 1882, the Prussian State acquired a group of twenty albums from the twelfth Duke of Hamilton; so far, these artworks have received little study. Eight of them belonged to the Scottish surgeon and interpreter Archibald Swinton (1731–1804) and ten to the Franco-Swiss engineer-architect Antoine Louis Henri Polier (1741–1795) – both were Company officers deeply acquainted with Indo-Persian aristocratic culture. Many more albums are linked to well-known European figures, such as the Governor-General of Bengal Warren Hastings (1732–1818) and the French Company officer (and special agent to Shujaʿ al-Daula in Faizabad) Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gentil (1726–1799).

Numerous interrelated questions arise from the study of this material, concerning audiences, artists, patrons, collectors and their wish to produce and preserve knowledge; these questions are to be discussed in this workshop.


WEDNESDAY, 15 September 2021:
Museum für Asiatische Kunst (staff entrance), Takustrasse 40

3.00 pm (CEST)
Raffael Gadebusch (Berlin): Welcome

3.15 pm (CEST)
Friederike Weis (Berlin): Welcome and Introduction

Session I: Polier’s Albums and Manuscripts: Contents and Contexts – Chair: Friederike Weis

3.50 pm (CEST)
Susan Stronge (London): Collecting the Mughal Past

4.30 pm Break

5.00 pm (CEST)
Malini Roy (London): Blurred Lines: Looking at the Paintings by the Artist Mihr Chand and Determining the Boundaries between Innovation, Imitation or Intentional ‘Duplication’

5.40 pm (CEST)
Firuza Abdullaeva-Melville (Cambridge): Three Highlights of Polier’s Collection from Cambridge: Treasures or Leftovers

THURSDAY, 16 September 2021:
Museum für Asiatische Kunst (staff entrance), Takustrasse 40

Session II: Patrons, Collectors and Compilation Strategies – Chair: Susan Stronge

9.30 am (CEST)
Emily Hannam (Windsor): Fit for a King? Two Late Mughal Albums in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle

10.10 am (CEST)
Axel Langer (Zurich): Obvious or Hidden Narratives in the Large Clive Album

10.50 am Break

11.20 am (CEST)
J.P. Losty (Sussex): Archibald Swinton’s Indian Paintings and Albums – an Analysis

12.00 pm Lunch Time

Session III: Recurrent Themes and Tropes in Indo-Persianate Albums – Chair: Laura Parodi

1.20 pm (CEST)
Katherine Butler Schofield (London): Performing Women in the Polier and Plowden Albums: Pursuing Khanum Jan

2.00 pm (CEST)
Molly Aitken (New York): Intoxicating Friendships: Figuring Classical Indian Aesthetic Regimes in Mughal Album Painting

2.40 pm Break

3.10 pm (CEST)
Yuthika Sharma (Edinburgh): Topography as Mughal Utopia? Polier’s ‘Garden Series’ and Artistic Exchange in 18th-century Periphery-Centre Imagination

3.50 pm (CEST)
Anastassiia Botchkareva (New York): Tropes and Outliers: Tracing Patterns of Iconography in the Polier Albums

FRIDAY, 17 September 2021:
Archäologisches Zentrum (Administrative Offices of the Museum für Islamische Kunst), Brugsch-Pascha-Saal, Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 2-6

9.45 am (CEST)
Stefan Weber / Deniz Erduman-Çalış (Berlin): Welcome

Session IV: Calligraphy in the Berlin Albums: Historicism and Contemporary Mughal Masters – Chair: Axel Langer

10.00 am (CEST)
Claus-Peter Haase (Berlin): The Calligraphies of the 16th-17th Centuries in the Berlin Albums – Reflections on their Origins and Purpose in a Muraqqaʿ

10.40 am (CEST)
Will Kwiatkowski (Berlin): Expanding the Canon – Mir Muhammad Husayn ʿAta Khan and the Polier Albums

11.15 am Break

Session V: Indian Muraqqaʿs Collected by Europeans: Networks and Relationships – Chair: Deniz Erduman-Çalış

11.50 am (CEST)
Laura Parodi (Genova): Allegory and Verisimilitude in Later Indian Albums

12.30 pm (CEST)
Isabelle Imbert (Manchester): Like a Garden Bedecked: Floral Margins in 18th-century Awadhi Albums Produced for European Patrons

1.10 pm Lunch Time

2.20 pm (CEST)
Yael Rice (Amherst, MA): The London Market for South Asian Muraqqaʿs and the Hastings Albums

3.00 pm Final discussion

Friederike Weis (Museum für Asiatische Kunst, Takustrasse 40, 14195 Berlin)

The event is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).