The Rose-Garden (Gulistan): Beatty’s loans to the 1931 Exhibition of Persian Art
In 1427, Timurid prince Baysunghur of Herat received a new copy of the Gulistan, produced by his team of court painters and calligraphers. Usually translated into English as the Rose-Garden, Gulistan is a literary masterpiece combining Persian poetry and prose, by the renowned Shiraz poet Sa`di. The book offers a series of dry and usually witty anecdotes, illustrating important life lessons about youth and age, wealth and poverty, conversation and silence, and ultimately, happiness. Baysunghur’s artists had created for him a small and exquisite manuscript, with calligraphy, illumination and narrative paintings designed to impress a very exacting patron, known for his love of books and sociable culture.
Today this celebrated manuscript is part of the Persian collection at the Chester Beatty Library, and recently has been digitised fully. Baysunghur’s 1427 Gulistan is extremely significant for the art history of the book in Timurid Iran, as this lecture will demonstrate. Beatty loaned it, together with many other works from his Islamic collections, to the ground-breaking 1931 Exhibition of Persian Art in London. Occurring at a significant political moment in Iranian-British history, the exhibition was a popular success, and together with its catalogue publications, the event would have a lasting subsequent impact on both art scholarship and the art market, enshrining (among other ideas) the model idea of Baysunghur as the ultimate bibiliophile prince.
Free, no booking required.
Dr. Moya Carey, curator of the Islamic Collection at the Chester Beatty.
Bio: Dr Carey joined the Chester Beatty in September 2018, as Curator of Islamic Collections. She was previously IHF Curator for the Iranian Collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2009-2018). Her research interests include the visual culture of Iran, and the history of collecting.