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Virgin and Child with John the Baptist

National Heritage Board, Singapore

National Heritage Board, Singapore

Muhammad Zaman (active 1649–1700)
Iran, signed and dated 1682–83
Colour and gold on paper
Asian Civilisations Museum [2011-02267]

The image is generally based on a European print, but the artist has imaginatively varied the scene by adding ruins and a building under construction in the background.

The openness of Iran to the outside world in the 17th century, especially during the reign of Shah Abbas II (reigned 1642–66), brought Europeans to the capital Isfahan. The influence of European works of art can be seen in the art of Iranian artists though their use of perspective, blended shading, and attention to Western motifs.

The presence of Christian subjects in Islamic art might be surprising, but the Virgin, Christ, and the Baptist are respected figures in Islam. This painting was probably made for a Muslim patron because it was added to an Islamic album containing drawings and calligraphies soon after it was made.

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  • Title: Virgin and Child with John the Baptist

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