Love and Yearning

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“This exhibition featured twenty-six of the finest illustrated manuscripts relating to Persian lyrical poetry highlighting the union of word and image. “Love and Yearning: Mystical and Moral Themes in Persian Poetry and Painting” contained works drawn from the Sackler and neighboring Freer galleries’ renowned permanent holdings and loans from several private collections and from the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. These works demonstrate how 15th to 17th-century artists transformed the rich imagery of mystical concepts found in Persian lyrical poetry into stylized, meticulously detailed and colorful images.

Lyrical texts describing the epic love stories of the prophet Yusuf (Joseph) and Zulaykha, Khusraw and Shirin and the crazed lover Majnun and Layli were produced on a more personal and intimate scale than manuscripts devoted to historical, scientific, or epic themes. Although small in size and few in number, the paintings accompanying lyrical texts were intricate and included repeated recognizable compositions and stock figures that became as familiar to the viewer as the verses themselves.”

Love and Yearning: Mystical and Moral Themes in Persian Poetry and Painting
@ Freer Gallery of Art / Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Smithsonian Institution

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