The Diez Albums

Contexts and Contents


The five Diez albums in Berlin, acquired by Heinrich Friedrich von Diez in Constantinople around 1789, contain more than 400 figurative paintings, drawings, fragments, and calligraphic works originating for the most part from Ilkhanid, Jalayirid, and Timurid workshops. Gonnella, Weis and Rauch unite in this volume 21 essays that analyse their relation to their “parent” albums at the Topkapı Palace or examine specific works by reflecting upon their role in the larger history of book art in Iran. Other essays cover aspects such as the European and Chinese influence on Persianate art, aspects related to material and social culture, and the Ottoman interest in Persianate albums. This book marks an important contribution to the understanding of the development of illustrative imagery in the Persianate world and its later perception.

Contributors are: Serpil Bağcı, Barbara Brend, Massumeh Farhad, Julia Gonnella, Claus-Peter Haase, Oliver Hahn, Robert Hillenbrand, Yuka Kadoi, Charles Melville, Gülru Necipoğlu, Bernard O'Kane, Filiz Ҫakır Phillip, Yves Porter, Julian Raby, Christoph Rauch, Simon Rettig, David J. Roxburgh, Karin Rührdanz, Zeren Tanındı, Lâle Uluç, Ching-Ling Wang, and Friederike Weis.

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Julia Gonnella has studied Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and took her PhD at the University of Tübingen. For many years she has been excavating in Syria, particularly in Aleppo, and was teaching at the Free University in Berlin. Since 2009 she is curator at the Museum of Islamic Art and has organized numerous exhibitions, including Heroic Times. Thousand years of Shahnama (Berlin 2011 with Christoph Rauch), and How Islamic Art came to Berlin. The Museum Director and Collector Friedrich Sarre (Berlin 2015).

Friederike Weis, PhD (2005), Freie Universität Berlin. She worked as Assistant Curator at the Museum für Indische Kunst in Berlin, held several fellowships and co-curated the exhibition Joseph and Zulaikha: Relations between India, Europe and Persia in the Berlin Kupferstichkabinett in 2014. She is a DFG-researcher at the Staatsbibliothek, with the project: „Autonomous pictures? Figural motifs in Persian drawings and paintings in the Diez albums”.

Christoph Rauch studied Arabic and Islamic studies at Leipzig. Since 2004 he has worked at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, where he was appointed head of the Oriental Department in 2010. He co-organized several conferences on manuscript collections and the history of Oriental studies, most recently the conference “Studies on Johann Gottfried Wetzstein (1815-1905): Manuscripts, Politics and Oriental Studies” in 2015. He is co-editor of The Yemeni Manuscript Tradition (Brill 2015).
"The book is a testament to the importance of collaboration among scholars with different types of expertise (historians, art historians and chemists; specialists of Islamic and Chinese art, Ottomanists and Persianists; scholars from diffrent generations) and multiple approaches to the history of art. Together these twenty-two scholars finally do justice to the complex history and contents of the famous Diez albums, making them comprehensible to the scholarly community." - Emine Fetvaci, Boston University, in: Journal of the History and Culture of the Middle East 95/2 (2018)
Julia Gonnella, Friederike Weis, Christoph Rauch Introduction

The Albums and Heinrich Friedrich von Diez
Julian Raby Contents & Contexts: Re-Viewing the Diez Albums
David Roxburgh Memorabilia of Asia: Diez’s Albums Revisited
Christoph Rauch The Oriental Manuscripts and Albums of Heinrich Friedrich von Diez and the Perception of Persian Painting in his Time

The Diez and the Topkapı Albums
Lâle Uluç The Perusal of the Topkapı Albums: A Story of Connoisseurship
Zeren Tanındı Repetition of Illustrations in the Topkapı Palace and Diez Albums
Simon Rettig Jaʿfar Tabrizi, “Second Inventor” of the Nastaʿlīq Script, and the Diez Albums

The Albums’ Contents: From the Mongols to the Timurids
Charles Melville The Illustration of the Turko-Mongol Era in the Berlin Diez Albums
Yuka Kadoi The Mongols Enthroned
Claus-Peter Haase Later Mongol and Early Timurid Representations of Rulers in the Diez Albums – Reflecting Changes of Ceremonial and Style
Barbara Brend The Depiction of Horses in the Diez Albums
Filiz Çakır Phillip Brave Warriors of Diez

The Albums’ Contents: Drawings and Sketches
Yves Porter Models, Sketches and Pounced Drawings in the Diez Albums: First Steps in the Making of Illustrated Manuscripts
Friederike Weis A Persianate Drawing of the Tazza Farnese: a Work by Muhammad Khayyam?
Oliver Hahn Scientific Investigation of Carbon Inks – an Analytical Challenge

Repatriations: the Diez Albums as a Source for Reconstructing Lost Art
Robert Hillenbrand The Great Mongol Shāhnāma: Some Proposed Repatriations
Bernard O’Kane The Great Jalayirid Shāhnāma
Massumeh Farhad The Divan of Sultan Ahmad Jalayir and the Diez and Istanbul Albums
Karin Rührdanz Illustrated Messages of Love in the Diez Albums

Europe, China and Istanbul: The Albums in a Broader Perspective
Gülru Necipoğlu Persianate Images Between Europe and China: The “Frankish Manner” in the Diez and Topkapı Albums, c. 1350-1450
Ching-Ling Wang Iconographic Turn: On Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Iconography in the Diez Albums
Serpil Bağcı The Ottomans in Diez’s Collection

Appendix I: Conference Programme
Julia Gonnella Appendix II: Masterpieces from the Serail: The Albums of Heinrich Friedrich von Diez (1751-1817)
List of Contributors
Index of Names, Places and Subjects
All interested in the contents and contexts of the arts of the book in the Persianate world and at the Ottoman court from the 14th to the 19th century.