Reference Entry

Perspective in Islamic art

Yuka Kadoi

in Oxford Art Online

Published online July 2009 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:

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Term used for any systematic technique that renders the illusion of recession behind a two-dimensional surface (including receding lines, gradients of color, tone and texture, degrees of clarity etc.). Until the late 13th century, such pictorial elements in the painting of the Islamic lands as figures, landscapes and buildings were used as mere space-fillers and did not depict depth or distance. The Mongol invasions brought from China to West Asia a new mode of depicting space, and painters began to suggest a sense of depth by means of different ground levels with indications of grass and pebbles (e.g. Manafi‛-i Hayavan [“Usefulness of animals”] of Ibn Bakhtishu‛; Maragha, c. 1290; New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib., M.500). This formula was developed by the painters of the Rashidiyya scriptorium (see Islamic art, §III, 4(v)(b)) in favor of a wider space, a convention which was visibly inspired by Chinese hand scroll painting in the large horizontal format. The use of shading also helped to enhance a sense of three-dimensionality. A new interest in space appears in the painting of the Jalayrid (...

Reference Entry.  478 words. 

Subjects: Painting ; Art Techniques and Principles ; Religious Art ; Islamic Art

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