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Sir Thomas Walker Arnold

(1864—1930) orientalist


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(b. Devonport, 19 April 1864; d. London, 9 June 1930). English Orientalist and historian of Islamic painting. He was attracted to Oriental studies while reading classics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was inspired by Edward Cowell and William Robertson Smith. From 1888 he taught philosophy at the Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, India. With the appearance of his Preaching of Islam (1896), an account of the spread of Islam, he achieved high academic acclaim and in 1898 became professor of philosophy in the Indian Educational Service, teaching at Government College, Lahore. He returned to London in 1904 to become assistant librarian at the India Office Library, where he studied illustrated manuscripts and made significant purchases. He also taught Arabic at University College. In 1909 he was appointed Educational Adviser for Indian Students in Britain and after 1917, as secretary to the Secretary of State, was responsible for Indian students. When he retired from the India Office in 1920, he became professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and in the following decade, when he had more time to write, he showed a particular interest in the history of Islamic painting. His first contribution, The Court Painters of the Grand Moguls, was a collaborative effort with Laurence Binyon. In Survivals of Sasanian and Manichaean Art in Persian Painting, Arnold examined the recurrence of pre-Islamic artistic motifs in Persian painting after a lapse of six or more centuries and suggested the importance of the Manichaean tradition. This was followed by Painting in Islam, a groundbreaking outstanding study of the status of painting in Islamic culture. Remaining active despite fatal illness, he died two weeks after returning from Egypt, where he had been visiting professor at Cairo University.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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