Pearls on a String: Artists, Patrons, and Poets at the Great Islamic Courts

November 08, 2015–January 31, 2016

The first international loan exhibition of Islamic art to foreground stories about people, Pearls on a String emphasizes the role of human relationships in inspiring and sustaining artistic creativity.

This exhibition comprises more than a hundred works in all media from a geographic area that spans the Bay of Bengal to the Mediterranean. The works on view date from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century: a period marked by the global movement of ideas and technologies and increased interaction among cultural and religious communities.

Pearls on a String pivots around three protagonists who embodied the spirit of their time and realized their patron’s ambitions through individual initiative and a network of personal relationships. In all three episodes, the patron confronts alternative literary and religious traditions along with new technologies and modes of artistic expression. Each protagonist offers his patron a creative means of incorporation and synthesis, embracing an ever-changing early modern world through the written word, painted image, and ingeniously engineered object.