Who’s Hiding Here? Artists and their Signatures in Persian Manuscripts of the Early Modern Period

Date: 27 July 2015
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Special Collections
Lecturer: Marianna Shreve Simpson - Visiting Scholar, University of Pennsylvania & Guest Curator, Princeton University Art Museum

Various Persian manuscripts dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries contain illustrations and illuminations signed by their artists in minute script. Often these all-but-invisible signatures are tucked within the frames of illuminated title pieces or worked into a composition’s architectural or landscape setting. Wherever their placement, they were deliberated positioned out of sight and thus contrast noticeably with the easily legible scribal signatures found in contemporary manuscript colophons. This paper will speculate on the motivations for and significance of these hidden signatures within Persian artistic practices and the image and self-image of the artist in early modern Iran. To broaden the cultural perspective, the discussion will also consider comparable signatures in contemporary European (largely Italian) manuscripts and paintings.