Robert Hillenbrand

University of Edinburgh

History of Art Department

BA (Hons) History of Art








The Dictionary of Art (Macmillan, London, 1996)

Your first port of call; there are numerous excellent articles on aspects of Islamic painting


E. J. Grube, The World of Islam (Feltham, 1967)

Short, snappy chapters help orientate you in fifteen minutes


A. U. Pope and P. Ackerman, eds., A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present (London and New York, 1938-9)

Contains chapter on Persian book painting by E. Kühnel and important articles on ceramics by A. U. Pope and R. Ettinghausen, and on manuscript illumination by R. Ettinghausen. Hard going at times


R. Ettinghausen, Islamic Art and Archaeology, Collected Papers, ed., M. Rosen-Ayalon (Berlin, 1984)

Always worth reading


R. Ettinghausen and O. Grabar, The Art of Architecture of Islam 650-1250 (Harmondsworth, 1987)

Reliable and accessible


O. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art (New Haven and London, 1973)

Excellent for background – history, society, religion – but directly relevant except for QusairAmra


R. Ettinghausen, ‘The Flowering of Seljuq Art’, Metropolitan Museum Journal, III (1970), 113-31

Reprinted in Collected Papers

Despite its title, this is a general discussion of great subtlety and depth


B. Brend, Islamic Art (London, 1991)


J. M. Bloom and S. S. Blair, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250 – 1800 (London, 1994)


R. Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture (London, 1999)


R. Irwin, Islamic Art (London, 1997)


You would do well to read the relevant section in every one of these books: it will give you a convenient overview of the content of the course. Since the sections in question are only a few pages long, this shouldn’t take too long.




H. A. R. Gibb et al., The Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1953)

The quickest way of getting at information on religious subjects: e.g. articles on Kur’an, Muhammad, Hadith, Taswir (‘painting’), Masjid. See also the same articles (this time different authors) in Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd edition)


H. A. R. Gibb, Muhammadanism (now called Islam) (Oxford, many editions)

The ideal short book to orientate yourself


A. J. Arberry, Sufism (London, many editions)

Short and sweet


W. M. Watt, Muhammad. Prophet and Statesman (Oxford, many editions)

A brief digest of his two classic books on these two aspects of the Prophet


Religious Themes in the Arts of the Book


S. Okasha, The Muslim Painter and the Divine (London, 1981)

Offbeat text. Useful pictures


M.-R. Séguy, The Miraculous Journey of Mahomet (London, 1977)

The fullest illustrated version of the mi’raj.


T. W. Arnold, Painting in Islam (Oxford, 1928; many reprints)

The opening chapter is an unsuperseded classic


T. W. Arnold, The Old and the New Testaments in Muslim Religious Art (Oxford, 1930)

Reliable Survey


R. Ettinghausen, ‘Persian Ascension Minitaures of the Fourteenth Century’ in R. Ettinghausen (ed., M. Rosen-Ayalon), Islamic Art and Archaeology. Collected Papers (Berlin, 1984) 244-68

The basic study


R. Milstein, ‘Sufi Elements in Late Fifteenth Century Herat Painting’, in Studies in Memory of Gaston Wiet, ed., M. Rosen-Ayalon (Jerusalem, 1977), 357-70

Breaks much new ground, and provocatively written


Religion in Islamic Art


J. C. Bürgel, The Feather of the Simurgh (New York, 1988)

Pioneering study which approaches Islamic art from the perspective of literature and religion


E. Esin, Mecca the Blessed. Madinah the Radiant (London, 1963)

Required reading for the iconography of the Prophet


S. H. Nasr, Islamic Art and Spirituality (Ipswich, 1987)

Try it


T. Burckhardt, The Art of Islam (London, 1976)

Typifies the modern Sufi approach; written by a Swiss Muslim


K. A. C. Creswell, ‘The Lawfulness of Painting in Early Islam’, Ars Islamica, 11-12 (1946)

Heavy going but reliable


S. Melikian, ‘The Sufi Strain in the Art of Kashan, Oriental Art, XII (1966)



O. Grabar, ‘Islamic Art and Byzantium’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XVIII (1964), 69-88

Distinguishes between Islamic and Byzantine iconoclasm




M. Lings, The Quranic Art of Calligraphy (London, 1976)

Splendid colour plates. Allusive text


E. Kühnel, Islamische Schriftkunst (repr. Graz, 1972)


A. Khatibi and M. Sijelmassi, The Splendour of Islamic Calligraphy (London, 1976)


D. James, The Master Scribes. Qur’ans of the 10th to 14th Centuries A.D. (Oxford, 1992)


A. Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World (Austin, 1979)

Accessible, short, reliable; the writing is lively


M. Ziauddin, Moslem Calligraphy (Calcutta, 1936)


D. James, Malmuk Qur’ans (London, 1988)

The only thorough study; beautifully illustrated


Y. H. Safadi, Islamic Calligraphy (London. 1978)

Minimal though excellent text. Remarkably varied illustrations


R. Ettinghausen, ‘A Signed and Dated Seljuq Qur’an’, Bulletin of the American Institute for Persian art and Archaeology, IV (1935), 92-102

Also in his Collected Papers


A. Schimmel, Islamic Calligraphy (Leiden, 1970)
Good brief guide


A. Schimmel, Calligraphy and Islamic Culture (New York and London, 1984)

An individual and at times rhapsodic meditation on the subject. Much information not available elsewhere, but sometimes hard to track down in the book


J. Sourdel-Thomine et al., ‘Khatt’, Encyclopaedia of Islam (2nd edition), IV, 1113-30


B. Moritz, ‘Arabia. Writing’, Encyclopaedia of Islam (1st edition), I, 381-393

These are both rather technical, but offer good conspectus


Persian Book Painting


B. W. Robinson, Persian Miniature Painting from Collections in the British Isles (London, 1967), 51

Useful for the brief introduction to the various schools


A. Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World (Austin, 1979)


T. Lentz and G. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision. Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (Los Angeles, 1989)

Easily the best colour plates published to date, and these are accompanied by text which opens up many new vistas.


I. Stchoukine, ‘Les Peintures de la Khamseh de Nizami du British Museum, Or. 6810’, Syria, XXVII (1950), 301-13


F. R. Martin and Sir T. W. Arnold, The Nizami MS… in the British Museum (Or. 6810) (Vienna, 1926)

These two titles both deal with the 1494 Nizami and the problems of connoisseurship


E. J. Grube, ed., A Mirror for Princes from India. Illustrated Versions of the Kalilah wa Dimnah, Anvar-i Suhayli, Iyar-i Danish, and Humayun Nameh (Bombay, 1991)


A. S. Melikian-Chirvani, Le Roman de Varqé et Golsâh, Art Asiatiques, XXII (special number), (1970), 1-262


O. Grabar, ‘The Visual Arts, 1050-1350’ in J. A. Boyle, ed., the Cambridge History of Iran, Vol. 5, The Seljuq and Mongol Periods (Cambridge, 1968), 626-48

Includes a provocative introduction to Mongol painting


R. Hillenbrand, ed., the Art of the Saljuqs in Iran and Anatolia. Proceedings of a Symposium held in Edinburgh in 1982 (Costa Mesa, 1994) (See the contributions on painting by Allan, Hillenbrand, Raby, Schmitz and Watson)


M. S. Ipsiroglu, Das Bild im Islam. Ein Verbot und Seine Folgen, (Vienna and Munich, 1971)

Well ahead of its time. Balanced and rigorous, and the historical context is well integrated into the text


Arab Painting


Atil, E., Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks (Washington, 1981)


K. A. C. Creswell, Early Muslim Architecture (2nd edition, Oxford, 1969)

Basic publication of Umayyad mosaics


U. Monneret de Villard, ‘Un Codice Arabo-Spagnolo con Miniature’, Bibliofilia, (1941), 43, 209-23

On Spanish book painting


D. Schlumberger, ‘Deux fresques omeyyades’, Syria, XXV (1946), 86-102

On Qasr al-Hair West


D. Haldane, Mamluk Painting (Warminster, 1978)


R. Ettinghausen, Arab Painting (Geneva, 1962)

The only classic in the field. Try to read the whole book


Grabar, O., The Illustrations of the Maqamat (Chicago and London, 1984)




R. Ettinghausen, ‘Evidence for the Identification of Kashan Pottery’, Ars Islamica, III (1936), 44-75


G. D. Guest, ‘Notes on the Miniatures on a Thirteenth Century Beaker’, Ars Islamica, X (1943), 148-52


M. S. Simpson, ‘The Narrative Structure of a Medieval Iranian Beaker’, Ars Orientalis, XII (1981), 15-24


Ghouchani, A., Inscriptions on Nishabur Pottery (Tehran, 1986)


M. Bahrami, Gurgan Faiences (Cairo, 1949)


A. Lane, Early Islamic Pottery (London, 1947)

Crams a remarkable quantity of accurate information into a miraculously short space.


J. W. Allan, ‘Abu’l-Qasim’s Treatise on Ceramics’ Iran, XI (1973), 111-20


G. Fehérvári, Islamic Pottery. A comprehensive study based on the Barlow Collection (London, 1973)


E. Atil, Ceramics from the World of Islam (Washington D.C., 1975)


M. S. Ipsiroglu, Saray-Alben. Diez’sche Klebebände aus den Berliner Sammlungen. Beschreibung und Stillkritische Anmerkungen (Wiesbaden, 1964)


A. S. Melikian-Chirvani, ‘Trois Manuscripts de l’Iran Seldjoukide’ in Arts Asiatiques, XVI (1967), 3-51


P. Chelkowski and P. Soucek, Nizami. Mirror of the Invisible World (New York, 1975)


L. Binyon, The Poems of Nizami (London, 1928)

These two titles both tell the stories of Nizami’s text agreeably


M. S. Simpson, ‘The role of Baghdad in the Formation of Persian Painting’, in C. Adle, ed., Art et Société dans le Monde Iranien, (Paris, 1982), 91-116


I. Stchoukine, Les Peintures des Manuscrits Timurides (Paris, 1954)

The standard work on Timurid painting


A. Welch, Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World (Austin, 1979)


T. Lentz and G. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision. Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century (Los Angeles, 1989)


B. Gray, Persian Painting (Geneva, 1961)
The essential companion to the topic


R. H. Pinder-Wilson, Persian Painting of the Fifteenth Century (London, 1957)


S. C. Welch, Royal Persian Manuscripts (London, 1976)


S. C. Welch, Wonders of the Age (Cambridge, Mass., 1979)

These two books cover 16th century material


F. R. Martin, The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and Turkey (London, 1912), II

Good for pictures but nothing else


I. Stchoukine, Les Peintures des Manuscrits Safavis de 1502 à 1587 (Pairs, 1959), MS no. 20


A. Daneshvari, Animal Symbolism in Warqa wa Gulshah (Oxford, 1986)


L. Binyon, J. V. S. Wilkinson and B. Gray, Persian Miniature Painting (London, 1933)


O. Watson, ‘Persian Lustre-Painted Pottery: The Rayy and Kashan Styles’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, XL (1973-5), 1-19


E. J. Grube, Islamic Pottery of the Eighth to the Fifteenth Century (London, 1976)


K. Otto-Dorn, ‘Das Seldschukische ThronbildPersica, X (1982), 149-203


O. Watson, Persian Lustre Ware (London, 1985)


A. Caiger-Smith, Lustre Pottery. Technique, Tradition and Innovation in Islam and the Western World (London, 1985)

These two books offer the best general treatment of lustre ware


J. M. Rogers, ‘Ceramics’ in R. W. Ferrier, ed., The Arts of Persia (New Haven and London, 1989) 255-62, 327-8 (especially useful for material drawn from Russian publications)


E. J. Grube, Cobalt and Lustre. The First Centuries of Islamic Pottery (Oxford, 1994)