This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.The Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London has one of the most renowned Islamic art collections in the world. Over 100 works from the V&A, many exhibited for the first time outside that museum, convey the richness of Islamic art on a scale and quality hard to find in any collection outside the Middle East. The exhibition's themes start with "The Written Word," featuring calligraphy from the 10th to 18th century. Considered the noblest and most distinctive form of Islamic art because of its association with the Qur'an, beautiful calligraphic writing pervades Islamic art. "Courts and Courtiers" introduces art made for the secular realm of the ruling elite. Two royal courts that flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries will be featured—the court of the Ottoman dynasty that ruled from Istanbul and the Safavid dynasty in Iran. "Mosques, Shrines, and Churches" will examine works created for religious establishments, including a 20-foot high pulpit (minbar) made for a mosque in Cairo in the 15th century. The section also includes works produced by Islamic artists for Christian churches, reflecting the religious tolerance that has characterized Islamic culture from its beginnings in the 7th century. "Artistic Exchange," the final section, includes works of Islamic, European, and Chinese manufacture. As the textiles and ivories demonstrate, the wealth of interaction between the Islamic Middle East and Europe was such that some works of art cannot be easily assigned to one culture. Tim Stanley, senior curator, Middle East, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is exhibition curator and the principal author of the book that accompanies the exhibition, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East.
Sponsor: The exhibition at the National Gallery of Art is generously sponsored by H.R.H. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States.
The international tour of this exhibition has been made possible by the generosity of Mohammed Jameel, the benefactor of the V&A's Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art, which is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Abdul Latif Jameel, the late founder of the Abdul Latif Jameel Group, and his wife Nafisa.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
Caliphs and Kings: The Art and Influence of Islamic Spain
Learn more about Islamic art on the Web site of the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution.