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Islamic Architecture
 
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
I am looking at the influence of 'Eastern' or Islamic art/architecture on decorative architecture in Northern Italy 1000-1300 (focusing on Tuscan works). I am chiefly studying areas whose trade or industry was linked to areas in the Middle East and I haven't found much research on this topic beyond those relating to Venice and some interesting material for similar trade or pilgrimage towns in France.

I am particularly interested in the trade of objects and how they relate to decorative designs in elements such as brickwork, stonework and relief sculpture, as well as the reuse of eastern objects such as bacini in Italian architecture.

I would love any references to specific research on or around this topic and would also greatly appreciate some scholarly feedback on this subject.

best wishes,
Rebecca Chandler
Responses
 
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
Rebecca,

Last year in Karachi, Pakistan, a 10-day conference and exbition was held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy entitled "Islam In Sicily".

This program was also presented in different Islamic countries. Local and Italian professors and architects participated in it. You may visit www.esteri.it for further information if available.

I am sorry, but in my next message, I will try to give you a specific contact for the matter concerned.

Thanks,

Abdul Jabbar Khan
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
Thank you both very much.

That sounds really interesting. I will see if I can source a copy of his thesis through our library and I have emailed him to try and get in contact with him.

Abdul, thank you, I would love more information if you had some - I looked at esteri.it but it only gave me brief information. Do you know if it looked at links between Islam outside of Sicily and Northern Italy? Either way I would like to get the seminar papers if they are available. I will do some more searching online for them.

best wishes,
Rebecca Chandler
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
Dear Rebecca,

You can check out this title: Arte Veneziana e Arte Islamica: atti del primo simposio internazionale sull'arte Veneziana e l'arte Islamica.

The authors are Grube Ernst, Carboni Stefano and Curatola Giovanni.

It is avilable in English and Italian, (ISBN number 8876620265), and also check out the online librararies in Venice.

I think it may be of your interest, because these are symposium proceedings.

All the best.

Abdul Jabbar Khan
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
Dear Rebecca,

Interesting topic you've got there! There is a Warburg Institute publication called Islam and the Italian Renaissance (with interesting examples of Arabic - or rather pseudo-Arabic - inscriptions appearing in Italian paintings, as well as items like carpets and textiles.)

I think the Warburg is holding a conference about Ottoman Civilization and the Italian Renaissance sometime this coming April.

Best,
Z

Zena Takieddine
Islamic art and northern medieval Italy
Dear Rebecca,

I know little about this topic, in general, however, I attended a symposium at the Isabella Steward Gardner museum where I heard some talks on specifically what you are interested in: trade of objects and how they relate to decorative designs in elements such as brickwork, stonework and relief sculpture.

Eva R. Hoffman gave a talk entitled "Christian-Islamic Encounters before the Renaissance" focusing on oliphants, objects of 'eastern' origin that were traded into Italy and often carved there with motifs borrowed from the 'east'. The roundel motif, i.e. a circle enclosing an animal like a deer in a border of floral arabesques, was the focus of her talk, and you have provided an illustration of it in your question. Hoffman speculated that this motif must have arrived into Italy with Fatimid fabrics, such as shawls. She divided the oliphants into two categories. The Fatimid oliphants had bands of carvings on the top and bottom, whereas the Italianate ones (probably carved in Italy) had the 'roundel' motif all along the tusk.

I am sure I'm not doing justice to her analysis, but you can probably find it in print soon, or e-mail her to obtain a copy.

You may also be interested in the talk given at the symposium by Deborah Howard, entitled "The Role of the Book in Cultural Transmission between Venice and the Eastern Mediterranean," which focused on the travel writing of Venetian traders.

Best,
Ozgur Basak Alkan
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