BAPCR Talk - Ghizilbashi Rezah and the Girl from New Julfa: seventeenth-century Armenian oil paintings from Iran in the Royal Collection

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Friday, 27 November, 2020
Place: 
London

On the 27th November 2020 Claire Shepherd and Claire Chorley will present:

Ghizilbashi Rezah and the Girl from New Julfa: seventeenth-century Armenian oil paintings from Iran in the Royal Collection

The Royal Collection is home to three extremely unusual, recently-identified 17th century oil paintings by the previously unknown Armenian painter Marcos. Two of the full-length portraits of figures in richly-patterned dress are currently being conserved; they tell a tale of international trade and diplomacy centred around the cosmopolitan city of Isfahan in modern-day Iran. Inscriptions in Armenian identify the subjects as Ghizilbashi Rezah and Girl from New Julfa (New Julfa is the Armenian district of Isfahan). While Marcos would have worked with or been trained by one of the handful of European painters working in Isfahan at the time, his paintings also display less familiar techniques such as the use of carefully applied metal ‘glitter’ to imitate the metal thread in the figures’ coats. In this talk, we will discuss Marcos’s rich painting technique and the treatment of these fragile unlined canvases, as well as trying to answer some of the questions the paintings raise – how did they come to be made by an Armenian painter in Isfahan, and how and when might they have reached the Royal Collection? We will also look at their unusual seventeenth century chinoiserie frames, which are currently being treated by our colleague Jane Wallis.

Claire Chorley trained in the Conservation of Easel Paintings at the Hamilton Kerr Institute, University of Cambridge and completed a Mellon Fellowship in the U.S.A. Claire has cleaned and restored paintings by Holbein, Canaletto, Titian and Van Dyck during her time at the Royal Collection and contributed to the recent Royal Collection exhibition catalogue: Canaletto and the Art of Venice.

Claire Shepherd joined the Royal Collection as a Paintings Conservator in 2019, having previously worked at museums including the National Gallery, Guildhall Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art. She trained at the Courtauld Institute of Art and was a Caroline Villers Fellow there. She has written for publications including the National Gallery Technical Bulletin and The Burlington Magazine.

Details to follow.