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The Arts of Islam: Majesty and Beauty

4-Session Daytime Course

Monday, February 8, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0566
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Joseph chased by Potiphar's wife by Behzad, 1488 (Persian miniature)


  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

Spanning more than 1400 years, three continents, and a geography that encompasses a great diversity of peoples, languages, and ethnicities, Islamic art and civilization forms one of the great contributions to humanity. What is unique about Islamic art? What characterizes it? What are the major art forms of Islamic art? Join art historian Ann Birkelbach as she answers these questions in four illustrated lectures designed to enrich your understanding and appreciation of the arts of Islam.  

FEB 8  Calligraphy, Illumination, and the Arts of the Book

Birkelbach surveys the premier art form of Islam, calligraphy, its sister art, illumination, and the arts of the book, which include the cherished art of miniature painting found in the eastern parts of the Islamic world including Persia, Afghanistan, and India.

FEB 22  Mosques, Palaces, and Tombs

Birkelbach provides an overview of the key features of the major mosques, palaces, and tombs of Islamic architecture from Spain to China, revealing a striking combination of variety and unity in these forms across geographical distances and eras.

MAR 1  The Genius of Craft

Considered among the minor arts in the West, the genius of craft in the Islamic world is almost unparalleled in any other civilization. View examples that display  the mastery of technique and skill in the applied arts of woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, carpets, and textiles and learn how these objects were highly sought in the world marketplace from medieval times through the present.

MAR 8  The Influence of Islamic Art and Architecture on the West

Interactions and influences between the Islamic and Western worlds have stretched back for centuries. Birkelbach examines the ways in which Islamic art has found reflections in other cultures, including that of Byzantium, and why it captured the Western imagination and continues to do so.

4 sessions

World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 course core credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.