Week 4 – Reading Workshop – The Brush and The Burin

This was an essay that I had to read several times just to grasp an understanding of what it is all about. The history behind it is quite complex and the scholars are still trying to figure out where the influences are from when it comes to the artwork.

  1. How does the author begin her essay?

    Yael Rice begins her essay by saying that the Mogul’s official records does not actually discuss the arrival or the missions of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus). Thus, she contrasts this by pointing out several evidence such as paintings that their influence was more than it seemed. The Mogul art that we had access to today have various European/Christian influences in terms of aesthetics. However, the content is adapted for the Mogul empire and Muslim Emperor Akbar’s taste.

  2. In contrast to calligraphy and painting, what place does an European engraving occupy in the album?

    It is presumed by historians that the European engravings are more for an aesthetic purpose rather than a symbolic one. But it is interesting to see the mixture of Arabic calligraphy, with paintings, and what’s more? The European engravings.

    Yael Rice writes…

    “But what of the relationship between engravings and calligraphies? In a 1926 study of the Jahangir album pages in Berlin, Ernst Kühnel and Hermann Goetz expressed puzzlement over thepairing of European engravings with specimens of calligraphy. The only explanation they could offer was that Mogul artists and connoisseurs had mistaken the prints for quill drawings.13 It is diffi cult to know whether these works were indeed thought to have been produced with a type of qalam, rather than with a burin and the aid of a press. In any case, it is intriguing to imagine that Mogul artists and patrons found a kinship between the effects of the burin and those of the reed pen. Indeed, engravings are decidedly calligraphic—in their concentration on linear means to build up compositions they perhaps share more in common with the art of the calligrapher than with that of the painter. In order to appreciate this point fully, one must perceive the calligraphic specimen as an ‘image’, its semantic content secondary, and, likewise, the engraving as more ‘graphic’ than iconographic.” 

  3. Then, what is the relationship between paintings and engravings?

    Yael states that the Moguls understood and appreciated art by putting all these 3 elements together due to their similarity in technique and form. Less attention is place in the content. A great contrast to last semester’s Medieval and Early Christian in which the artists’ main intentions are to spread a message rather than the aesthetic quality of the pieces.

Yael continues that by looking at the collection, we can see that the Mogul albums showcased an early skill of concept art. A collection of pieces grouped together in either motif/theme/aesthetic/content. It is interesting how these ancient artists made the 3 forms come together successfully.

Concept art is still prevalent in the art world/music industry to this day. Works in a series or a concept album portrays the parallel with the Mogul albums. Mixed media using writing and images can push art forward in ways that sometimes using only one platform cannot.

2 thoughts on “Week 4 – Reading Workshop – The Brush and The Burin

  1. I am glad to hear that you took the time to read and reread this short essay. I chose it because it is short, well-written, and it brings attention to technique, which seems perfect for an art school. But, few first-year students have appreciated this essay. So, I wonder if I should change it instead to another student presentation (perhaps about mosques and keramats in Singapore).

    Anyway, I find it interesting that you made a connection to last year’s art history class.

    I also find it interesting that you used the term “collection.” Indeed, the bringing together of calligraphy, paintings, and engraving in the same space is a form of curating a collection–thank you for making me thing!

    1. It’s definitely worth a read. I enjoyed it and it was interesting to see how the Mughals brought everything together so nicely. If someone doesn’t have much background in Art History, like me, there may be some terms and words that needed to be Googled. Then some extra reading of other articles to form a connection and to really understand what Yael Rice was talking about.

      I think the mosques in Singapore would be awesome because they’re beautiful but I don’t think we’ve ever had a chance to cover them. The only mosques I remember from the previous semester were in the middle east and Hagia Sophia which was originally a basilica if I remember correctly.

Leave a Reply