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Williams College Museum of Art Presents: Antoin Sevruguin and the Persian Image

Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) will present Antoin Sevruguin and the Persian Image, an exhibition that offers a glimpse of turn-of-the-20th century Iran through the eyes of one of that nation's most creative photographers, Antoin Sevruguin. The exhibition was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and will be on view at WCMA from January 10 to May 2, 2004.

Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933)
Barber Dyeing Nasir al-din Shah's Mustache
1890, modern gelatin silver print made from original, approx. 18 x 22 inches.

Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933) was a celebrated photographer of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth century Iran. He used the relatively new medium of photography to record intriguing images of Iran, its people, and their culture at a time of significant change. The exhibition shows how Sevruguin moved effortlessly back and forth between Iran and Europe, in the process creating a diverse body of photographic work that oscillates between East and West in its subject matter: veiled women, the shah, court life, western tourists, common people; and approach: portraiture, archaeological studies, and architectural street scenes.

Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933)
Veiled Woman with Pearls
1890-1900, modern gelatin silver print made from original, approx. 18 x 22 inches.

About the Artist
Antoin Sevruguin was an Armenian Christian who lived most of his life in Tehran and traveled among the diverse worlds of Iranian society. Influenced by both Western and Eastern artistic traditions, Sevruguin brought a new sense of artistry to Iranian photography. Sevruguin's patronage was equally diverse. He served the royal court of the shahs and he ran a portrait studio open to the public. He also journeyed to sites of Persian civilization to photograph the evocative ruins of the Iranian past, such as the ruins of Persepolis and inscriptions of the lineage and conquests of the reigns of Darius I and Xerxes I.

Antoin Sevruguin (late 1830s-1933),

Interior of Guilstan Palace
ca. 1890, modern digital print made from original, approx. 22 x 27 inches.

Most of Sevruguin's work was destroyed during his lifetime as a result of the Iranian constitutional crisis of 1906 and the civil unrest that accompanied the transition from the Qajar to the Pahlavi dynasty. Today, the Myron Bement Smith Collection of the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art archives houses one of the world's largest collections of surviving work-nearly 700 glass plate negatives-by this early photographer. The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and adjacent Freer Gallery of Art together form the national museum of Asian art at the Smithsonian. Further information can be found at

Related Exhibitions and Programs
To complement this exhibition, WCMA presents Forbidden Image? Persian and Mughal Painting from the Collection. The exhibition, on view from January 10 to April 25, 2004, examines a common misconception about Islamic art-that representation of the human figure is strictly forbidden. In actuality, Islamic art has a long, rich tradition of depicting people. Forbidden Image? will show that the issue of non-representation is historically a complex and disputed issue.

Forbidden Image? will include 12 Persian and Mughal paintings and drawings ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries and depicting a variety of men and beasts. These works, which represent highlights of WCMA's Islamic holdings, also reflect Antoin Sevruguin's study of traditional Persian painting, which influenced his photography work. Forbidden Image? Persian and Mughal Painting from the Collection was organized by Holly Edwards, Lecturer in Art at Williams College, with Stefanie Spray Jandl, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator for Academic Programs, in conjunction with Professor Edwards's art history course, "Forbidden Image?"

Complementing these two exhibitions is Charles Prendergast and Persian Paintings, also drawn from WCMA's permanent collection. The five Charles Prendergast (American, 1863-1948) works on view show how Prendergast experimented with stylization, compression of space, and rich use of gold leaf and color that he so admired in Persian painting.

Charles Prendergast and Persian Paintings was organized by Ellery Foutch, Curatorial Assistant, with Nancy Matthews, Eugenie Prendergast Senior Curator of 19th and 20th Century Art and Lecturer in Art.

Dr. Frederick Bohrer, curator of Antoin Sevruguin and the Persian Image, will be giving a gallery talk on Thursday, April 29 at noon at Williams College Museum of Art in conjunction with Antoin Sevruguin and the Persian Image. Dr. Bohrer, Associate Professor of Art at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, has published widely on the representation of the Near East in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He is also a contributor to, and editor of, the exhibition's companion publication.

Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA)
15 Lawrence Hall Drive, Ste 2
Williamstown, MA 01267
t: 413.597.2429   f: 413.458.9017

open tu-sa 10-5, su 1-5
free admission, wheelchair accessible

... Payvand News - 12/12/03 ... --

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