An Iranian Youth in an Album from Zwolle
In the family scrapbook compiled by Gesina ter Borch (1633-1690), there is a remarkable drawing of an Iranian youth. Art-historical and scientific research has revealed that although the drawing has areas of later overpainting, there is an original Safavid miniature from the sixteen-fifties or sixties underneath them. It is likely that Gesina herself was responsible for these overpaints, when she mounted the badly damaged miniature in her album at some time between 1660 and 1680. Interestingly, aside from the blackened background and the colourful feather and sashes she added, she attempted to follow the original Iranian style in her restorations. The original was made in the sixteen-fifties or sixties by a painter of the Isfahan School, who probably took his inspiration from an older composition by the famous court artist, Riza Abbasi. The article goes on to show that Riza Abbasi’s work was known in the Dutch Republic before then. In 1623 the junior merchant Niclaes Hem travelled to Iran. He was a member of a Dutch East India Company delegation seeking to negotiate a trade agreement with the Shah. Hem acquired a series of drawings by or after Riza Abbasi while he was in Isfahan. He was probably helped in this acquisition by his fellow countryman, Jan van Hasselt. A number of the original miniatures that Hem took back to the Republic were published as woodcuts in Johannes de Laet’s Persia (1634).
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Copyright (c) 2021 Jan de Hond, Amélie Couvrat-Desvergnes, Leila Sauvage, Forough Sajadi, Paolo D'Imporzano
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