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The Contemporary Indigenous Art Internship for the summer of 2023

Dear Colleagues,

We are excited to share a paid internship opportunity with you from Harvard Library. Tozzer Anthropology Library and the Fine Arts Library will host a student in the summer of 2023 as part of our commitment to diversify the collections and provide learning opportunities to students. The student will be part of a larger cohort working on EDIBA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Anti-Racism) projects across Harvard Library.

The Contemporary Indigenous Art Internship is centered on increasing representation of contemporary Indigenous art of North America within the research collections of both libraries.  Through this experience the intern would also get to engage in complex issues such decolonizing library spaces through collections work.

Please note that the Application Deadline is February 28.


  1. While working in collaboration with bibliographers from both libraries, the intern will undertake collections analysis to identify what each library is collecting related to contemporary Indigenous art of North America as well as to identify gaps in existing collections.
  2. In collaboration with bibliographers from both libraries, help to create a collaborative collection development policy.
  3. Help bibliographers identify and document areas to expand within these two research collections.
  4. Work with both libraries to identify ways of promoting contemporary North American Indigenous art research collections to a wider audience.

Basic Qualifications:

  • Currently enrolled in a graduate library science program or a related, graduate-level field of study
  • Demonstrated commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Anti-racism. For more information regarding Harvard Library’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Anti-Racism, please see

Additional Qualifications:

  • Familiarity with Indigenous topics or issues within North America.
  • Some knowledge of or an enthusiasm for learning about the landscape of contemporary Indigenous art and artists in North America.
  • An awareness or willingness to learn more about culturally sensitive issues and topics within Indigenous communities in North America.
  • Experience undertaking a more advanced research project that draws upon library resources. For example, engaging in research for a graduate level course.

Physical Demands:

  • Ability to lift up to 25 lbs.
  • This position requires bending, squatting, stretching, and climbing small step stools
  • Possible exposure to dust and mold

Work Environment:

While the primary workspace is Tozzer Library, the intern would have a floating workspace at the Fine Arts Library.


  • Local housing will be provided
  • $15 an hour
  • $1,000 travel/moving stipend

Dates of Internship:

  • Summer 2023 (Start Date: TBD)
  • Offers made late April
  • 30 hours per week


To Apply for the Internship: 

Please send your cover letter to
In the email subject line, please use the following naming convention: 2023 EDIBA SUMMER INTERN_TozzerFAL 


Deadline: February 28, 2023

Harvard requires COVID vaccination for all Harvard community members. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement, exemptions, and verification of vaccination status may be found at the University’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information webpage:  


Stuart Cary Welch Islamic & South Asian Photograph Collection – Part 6

‘Missing’ Images for Catalogs and Finding Aids

Written by Alice West

This post is the sixth in a series about the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection written by the project’s staff in the Digital Images and Slides Collections of the Fine Arts Library.


Previously, we talked about an important subset of Stuart Cary Welch’s photographs, images of Islamic and South Asian art in private collections. This time, we look at another interesting subset, the images that are currently available to the general public only as textual descriptions in catalogs or finding aids.

Libraries and museums maintain inventories of the objects they own. Some inventories are simple itemized lists, while others publish catalogs that provide descriptions of the objects. It takes an enormous effort to compile a catalog with descriptions, whether detailed or not. Compilation of library catalogs is a branch of art history in its own right, and some catalogers, such as Hermann Ethé, Lynda York Leach, or Basil W. Robinson, are known particularly for their cataloging accomplishments, in addition to their research. Catalogs of illustrated manuscripts are especially time and space consuming, as a manuscript may have dozens and even hundreds of images that need to be identified and described. As a rule, printed catalogs do not include images of all miniatures, as it would make the catalogs prohibitively large and expensive, especially for color printing.

Computer technologies brought a revolution in cataloging. They brought in virtually unlimited storage space, as well as powerful search capabilities. The first stage of this revolution was to convert existing paper catalogs into digital databases. However, due to the sheer scale of this task, many online catalogs are, in effect, scans of the old paper catalogs that have but a few images. Similar to catalogs, institutions compile finding aids that describe groups of objects in their collections, but provide little description of individual objects or images they contain.

This is where the Welch Photograph Collection can help. It may contain the ‘missing’ images from catalogs and finding aids, such as the miniatures from Layli u Majnun (Ouseley Add. 137, Bodleian Library) detailed in Robinson’s Descriptive Catalog [i] (pic. 1 and 2) and Persian, Turkish, Hindustani, and Pushtu Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library by Sachau and Ethé (No. 650). Many leaves of this manuscript are damaged or entirely destroyed, which may explain why, given the limited resources, this manuscript has not been digitized. Still, its miniatures are well-preserved, and the Welch Collection provides an opportunity to take a peek at them [ii].

Camel riders on the left, wearing Arabic-style turbans with hanging ends, are battling horsemen in golden helmets on the right. Majnun and villages are hiding behind the hills, watching the battle from a distance.

Pic. 1. Battle of the Clans. Layli u Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi, Bodleian Library, Ouseley Add. 137, ca. 1573-1574.

Majnun, wearing dark-blue loin cloth, skinny and barefoot, is talking to his friend at the side of a brook. The friends are standing facing each other. A blossoming tree is behind Majnun. Nearby and looking the same direction as him are a leopard and a lioness. A herd of wild goats play in the distant hills. The sky is solid gold with dark-blue bands of clouds.

Pic. 2. Majnun Visited by a Friend in the Desert. Layli u Majnun by Nizami Ganjavi, Bodleian Library, Ouseley Add. 137, ca. 1573-1574.

Dastur-i Himmat (ca. 1755-1760) is a lavishly illustrated West Bengali manuscript meticulously described in Linda York Leach’s Mughal and Other Indian Paintings from the Chester Beatty Library. According to the catalog, the Dastur-i Himmat retells in Persian verse the Hindu romance of Prince Kamrup of Avadh and Princess Kamalata of Serendip. The romance was very popular, but the Dastur-i Himmat was a minor version, not often produced. Leach’s large illustrated catalog contains 18 out of 231 images from the manuscript, both color and black-and-white. This is a relatively large number of reproductions for a printed catalog of this scale, but the Welch Collection has at least two illustrations that are ‘missing’ from the catalog: Kamalata and Kamrup with the magician Bidyachand disguised as a parrot on his head and a Battle Scene. Both of these Welch images are details rather than the full versions of the original images, though we are hopeful that their full versions, as well as other illustrations from this manuscript, will be discovered as we continue to catalog the collection.

Two richly attired ladies are kneeling on an open palanquin carried by four men in orange uniforms. A crowd of young men stands facing the ladies. All young men and the ladies are wearing long pearl necklaces studded by rubies and pearl earrings.

Pic. 3. Kamalata is carried out on a litter, while Kamrup stands in a row of her suitors with the parrot Bidyachand on his head. Dastur-i Himmat, Chester Beatty Library, Ms. 12, ca. 1755-1760.

The entire space of the image is filled with clashing horses and warriors waving raised swords and shields. There are dead bodies on the ground and a warrior in the center carries a severed head.

Pic. 4. Kamrup and his companions fight Raja Pirthipat’s enemies (?). Ibid.

With its vast number of Islamic manuscripts and albums, the British Library has one of the most extensive digitization programs in the world. The Library’s fabulous online Johnson Collection, however, is a finding aid that provides detailed textual descriptions of its objects, but not images. Occasional images can be found elsewhere, including, for example, in the British Library’s Asian and African Studies Blog, but you can also look for some of the ‘missing’ images in Welch Photograph Collection, where they are preserved in high resolution, color, and occasionally close-ups. One such image is Young Prince Embracing a Youth (pic. 5a). This miniature belongs to the Bukhara (modern Uzbekistan) school of painting that had significant influence on Mughal art. There are multiple variations on this theme, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (pic. 5b) and a 19th century image currently at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia (pic. 5c). While not as widely known, Welch’s image from the British Library’s Johnson Collection stands out for its bright colors and unique style among alternative tinted drawing versions.

Young prince’s leg is high around the youth’s waste and the arm around his neck. The youth has removed his turban and is clutching a bottle in his hand. The picture is richly decorated with illuminated corners and half-medallions.

Pic. 5a. Young prince embracing a youth. British Library, Johnson 56,12. Bukhara school, late 16th century

This image is very similar to the one above, but executed in monochrome with only a light wash. In addition to the wrapped around leg, the prince tries to grab on to his companion’s face, white the latter pushes his hand away.

Pic. 5b. Two youths romping. Iran (?), late 16th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1978.18.

The composition here is the same as in the previous two images, with one youth wrapping his leg around the waste of the other, but the bottle of wine is missing. There are extra landscape features, including a tree and a brook at the boys’ feet. This image is a very light beige wash, except for the turbans, sashes, and collars painted in contrasting gold. Poetry lines form a frame around the image.

Pic. 5c: Two youths near a tree. Hermitage Museum, VP-955. Iran, 2nd half of the 19th century.

Another rarely seen miniature described in the Johnson Collection’s finding aid is Young Dervish with Spear and Book (pic. 6) by a renowned 16th century Khorasani artist Muhammadi, who, according to Abolala Soudavar, was “the uncontested master” who influenced the work of Farrukh Beg and Riza ‘Abbasi [iii]. This image was used in at least two later compositions, one of which, Young Noble and Dervish in Conversation from Aga Khan Museum of Toronto (pic. 7), has been reproduced in several printed museum’s catalogs, but not on the museum’s website. Digital versions of both images can be found in HOLLIS, Harvard’s portal to the Welch Collection.

A young man is facing left against a plain background. He is holding a double-edged spear in his left hand and a book in his right. Attributes of a dervish, including a chained bell, an alms bowl, a tin water jar, and a dagger, hang from his waste. The borders are illuminated with a floral pattern and arabesques.

Pic. 6. Muhammadi, Young dervish with spear and book. Iran, ca. 1575. British Library, Johnson 28,14

A young man dressed in fine robes and a large turban is perched on a low branch of a blossoming tree with an open book in his hands. A golden wine bottle is on the ground behind him. Opposite the nobleman is a young dervish with a shaven head, accessorized by a leopard skin, a tin water jug, a chained bell, a kashkul or a beggar’s bowl, a purse, and a knife. A brook runs in the foreground surrounded by field flowers and multi-colored rocks. The golden sky full of scrolling clouds takes up a third of the picture.

Pic. 7. Young noble and dervish in conversation. Iran, ca. 1590. Aga Khan Museum, AKM074

One of my favorite undigitized and understudied manuscripts is Shirin u Khusrau from Hamsa of Hatifi, nephew of the famous poet Jami (Codrington/Reade 244, Royal Asiatic Society). Fihrist Oxford-Cambridge catalog calls it “a manuscript of sumptuous quality,” and rightly so. This Khorasan style [iv] manuscript has only five miniatures and one tinted drawing [v], but its margins illuminated with waqwaq scrolls and human-inhabited cameos are delightful (pic. 8). Among the miniatures, one particularly stands out: it is a girl in a bright robe decorated with standing and sitting human figures (pic. 9).

The wide margins of this poetry page are covered with grotesque scrolls with the heads of animals, people, and demons against a gold background. The four scalloped medallions are proportionally spaced around the margins.

Pic. 8. Waqwaq scrolls with five medallions of youths and girls. Khorasan, ca. 1575. Royal Asiatic Society, Persian 244, f. 3a.

A slender young girl is wearing a long golden robe covered with images of seated and standing noblemen and a cap with long pointy ends hanging on both sides of her face. Her undergarments and skinny shalvars peaking from under her robe are decorated in geometric patterns. The girl is placed against a solid dark background against which her brightly patterned clothing stand out.

Pic. 9. Standing girl holding a spray of flowers. Khorasan, ca. 1575. Royal Asiatic Society, Persian 244, f. 94b.

The Welch Collection has nine out of the 25 miniatures in Jawami al-Hikayat by ‘Aufi (British Library, Or. 11676), for which the British Library catalog provides only textual descriptions. One is particularly lively, showing the Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi (8th century), who is unable to sleep, and his masseur working on caliph’s legs and simultaneously entertaining him by telling stories. Note the intently listening king, the masseur, who applies visible force to do a good massage, and a number of golden metal objects in the foreground, including a wash basin with a ewer and an incense burner to help the caliph relax.

The calif is stretched out on a bed, propped by a large pillow and covered by a blanked waist down. Layers of draperies hang down over the bed decorated in geometric and arabesque patterns. The calif is leaning on his elbow and looking sideways at the masseur, who is kneading the calif’s leg. To the right of the bedchamber, three courtiers are observing this procedure. There is a small fountain pool, a gold incense burner and a gold pitcher with water basin in front of the bed.

Pic. 10. The Calif al-Mahdi and his masseur. Khorasan, ca. 1575. Royal Asiatic Society, Persian 244, f. 94b.

Many images in the Welch Photograph Collection come without notations, so the Fine Art Library’s catalogers rely on manuscript descriptions in catalogs to identify the images. Problems arise when more than one description matches an image. For example, the miniature in pic. 11 from Jawami al-Hikayat matched two descriptions from the catalog [vi]: 1) f. 381a: The four travelers being tested by the Indian princess, and 2) f. 278a: Princes of Rum is talking to her tenth suitor. Luckily, a few lines of text that came with the image helped identify it as folio 278a. This serves as an example of the importance of text that comes with the image, which, unfortunately, is often cut off in reproductions.

In the center of the page, a young man is sitting on a large canopied throne. To his right, a princess, disguised as a maid, is addressing him. A group of young men in long robes and turbans are looking at the princess across a pool fountain. A blue-and-white Chinese vase, a gift for the princess, is in front of this group. The scene unfolds in a landscape filled with flowers and blossoming trees.

Pic. 11. Princes of Rum is talking to her tenth suitor. Iran, early 15th century. Jawami al-Hikayat, British Library, Or. 11676, f. 278a.

I would like to end this overview with a stunning miniature from the Keir Collection, currently at the Dallas Museum of Art, but not on the museum’s website. Its description, along with a color reproduction, appears in a rare printed catalog of the Keir Collection [vii]. The expanse of the gold sky that takes most of the painting makes this image especially beautiful. The unusual composition, as well as the ‘cut off’ figures in the lower left corner make researchers believe that it was cut out of a larger image [viii] or is part of a two-page frontispiece.

Two pairs of geese and magpies cross the solid gold sky that covers nearly three quarters of the picture. A horseman and his companions at the bottom left corner appear cut off at the edges and blend into a mountain of sharp rocks. Fantastic oversized flowers and bare trees punctuate the golden sky. The picture is framed by a quatrain of poetry at the bottom.

Pic. 12. Mongol cavalry in a landscape. Iran, 15th century. Dallas Museum of Art, III.077.

Supplementing catalogs and finding aids with color images was not Welch’s goal, so there is no systematic coverage even for major publications. If an image is missing from a particular catalog, there is no guarantee you will find it in the Welch Photograph Collection. Still, you may want to try searching HOLLIS or ask the librarian in charge of the collection, Nicolas Roth (

Images that have been described in catalogs, but have not been available visually until now, provide additional material to study and may even inspire new research. One thing we are sure about: the Welch Photograph Collection holds many pleasant surprises for its visitors, both academic and general, as the work on cataloging the collection continues.



[i] B.W. Robinson, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Paintings in the Bodleian Library (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 1027-1035.

[ii] B.W. Robinson, Catalogue of a Loan Exhibition of Persian Miniature Paintings from British Collections, VAM (London: s.n., 1951), 80.

[iii] Abolala Soudavar, “The Age of Muhammadi,” Muqarnas 17, no. 1 (2000): 53-72.

[iv] B. W. Robinson, “Muhammadi and the Khurasan Style,” Iran 30 (1992): 17-29.

[v] B. W. Robinson, Persian Paintings in the Collection of the Royal Asiatic Society (London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1998), 59-61.

[vi] Norah Titley, Miniatures from Persian manuscripts: catalog and subject index (London: British Museum, 1977).

[vii] B.W. Robinson, Ernst J. Grube, G. M. Meredith-Owens et al., Islamic Painting and the Arts of the Book. The Keir Collection (London: Faber, 1976).

[viii] B.W. Robinson, Persian Miniature Painting from the Collections in the British Isles (London: HMSO, 1976).



Sharing my stories on anti-Asian racism

This post is written by Naoe Suzuki who works for the Fine Arts Library. She is the person who develops our social media posts. She is also a visual artist. The Fine Arts Library stands with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI). We condemn hate crimes against Asian communities and stand in solidarity with our staff members, colleagues, students, researchers, and the artists in AAPI communities.

Installation view, image based on a group photo of female students in rows, printed in red and assembled together. Size is 10 feet by 15 feet.

My History not my memory

“In the early nineties when I was a college student in a suburb outside Boston, my car was vandalized on the campus parking lot at night. All the windows were smashed, every single wire and tube in the front was cut and dismantled, and there was a message scratched on the side of the car, “KKK was here.” My registration card, which I kept in the glove compartment, was left on the passenger seat, as if to warn me that whoever did this knew who I was and where I lived. The campus police officer to whom I reported the incident, who was in the dominant group, refused to file it as a hate crime. Despite my pleading and the obvious evidence, the incident was only filed as vandalism. I was not offered any kind of emotional support from the college, and I lived in fear for my safety for many months.

The rising violence against AAPI communities and especially the Atlanta spa shootings reminded me about this incident that happened thirty years ago. I felt great pain and grief for the victims, but I also remembered the fear.

The question over whether Atlanta spa shooting was motivated by racism or sexism is absurd to me because racism and sexism are always entwined for women of color, and especially for Asian women. I hear too many times that Asian Americans are too quiet, shy, or not loud enough to report or talk about these crimes. Perhaps, this may be partially true, but, when I did raise my voice, it was dismissed, erased, and disregarded. I keep seeing this happening over and over again, not only with our voices, but with our bodies too.

According to the data released from Stop AAPI Hate, out of nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021, 68% targeted women.[1] To this day, the Atlanta spa shootings are not classified as a hate crime.

During graduate school, my artwork was vandalized when I showed a piece as a work-in-progress before my thesis show. I thought it was racially motivated, but I was told that there was no evidence. I displayed larger-than-life-size prints of figures. The figures were not specifically Asian, but the perception of some viewers was that they were Asians. The prints were ripped, but I was able to repair them and still include them in my thesis show. At that time, my work focused on Asian identity and I often incorporated my experiences as a Japanese woman. Invisibility/visibility of Asian bodies and voices was also important to me. Today, we are still grappling with the invisibility of Asian people. The piece for my thesis (the last image) was called “Perpetual Self Discipline,” which also spoke to the model minority myth, self-discipline as something that many people of Asian descent may be familiar with.”

Detail showing prints of three female students as they sat with their hands clasped.

My History not my memory, detail

Image 1 & 2:
My History not my memory
Naoe Suzuki [artist]
Xerox transfer on Japanese paper
10 ‘x 15’

Installation view. Larger than life size figures are printed on paper with red ink. There are two rows of them hanging. Figures are wearing exercise bloomers often worn by Japanese students. In front of the are cast glass of dumbbells.

Perpetual Self Discipline

Image 3:
Perpetual Self Discipline
Naoe Suzuki [artist]
Xerox transfer on Japanese paper, cast glass of dumbbells and video, Size variable
1996 – 1997


We miss you, András! Wishing you all the best for an exciting retirement!

András Riedlmayer, Bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture at the Fine Arts Library, will be retiring at the end of this year. Words do not do justice to describe András as a colleague, mentor, friend, and advocate for the preservation of cultural heritage in war-torn societies. He will be sorely missed at the library by staff, students, fellows, and researchers. We wish him all the best for a fulfilling and exciting retirement!

András Riedlmayer, Bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture, is retiring after 35 years of distinguished service as director of the Documentation Center of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Fine Arts Library. In his time at Harvard, he has helped build world class library collections and assisted countless students, faculty members, and other scholars with their research. A native of Hungary, he is a specialist in the history and culture of the Ottoman Balkans and has spent the past 25 years documenting the destruction of manuscript libraries and other cultural heritage during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. He has testified about his findings as an expert witness before the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). (For more information, see the February 2020 Harvard Gazette article entitled “Harvard Librarian Puts This War Crime on the Map”) In 2018, András received the Middle East Librarians Association’s David H. Partington Award for his “contributions to the field of Middle East librarianship, librarianship in general, and the world of scholarship.”

András holding his tuxedo cat Gideon, with a laptop on the kitchen table while answering reference questions on a zoom meeting.

András holding his tuxedo cat Gideon, with a laptop on the kitchen table while answering reference questions on a zoom meeting.

Get Fine Arts materials digitized

The Fine Arts Library’s Digital Images and Slides Collection can provide copy photography by request for teaching and research. Materials including books, photographs, slides or transparencies can be digitized. Image subject matter should be related to the visual arts, archaeology, architecture, or material culture.

All materials digitized by request will also be made available online to the Harvard community.



All Harvard ID holders can request these materials. Faculty and classroom teaching requests are given first priority. No fees associated with this service.



To make a request please fill out the  Imaging Order Request Form. Please read Instructions for Imaging Orders Request Form before filling out the form, and bring it with the materials to be digitized to one of our offices, Lamont Library Room 130 (ask at circulation area), or to Sackler Building Room 317, located at 485 Broadway Street.

Please contact us if you need assistance in filling out the form. We invite first time users of this service to contact us to have a conversation about your imaging needs.

Drop off is available at our Sackler Office Monday through Friday, 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm. To drop off at Lamont Library, please contact us to make an appointment.

Downloadable files:


Instructions for Imaging Orders Request Form



Please allow at least 5 business days per 50 images.

Due to the pandemic, safety guidelines for handling library materials require quarantine periods between staff handoffs. As a result, turnaround time for orders will vary.


Email Christopher Hyde:

Resource list on digital images of artworks by Black artists

The Fine Arts Library has put together a list of resources on digital images of artworks by Black artists that focus on Black history and issues of race.

We are committed to increasing our representation of works by Black artists and others who have been traditionally left out of the narrative of art history, and to making these resources more accessible and discoverable. Towards that goal, we encourage you to reach out to us with suggestions for artists you don’t find in our collections, improvements we can make to improve the findability of our images, or any other inquiries. Click the link below for a downloadable PDF.

Resource list on digital images of artworks by Black artists

Late Ottomania in the Fine Arts Library’s Binney Collection

Written by Gavin Moulton (Class of 2020)

Color engraving of Commander of the Janissaries

Aga of the Janissaries. Colored engraving by Jacques Charles Bar, 1789. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

As a student assistant in the Fine Arts Library, I spent the Spring semester diving into the prints of the library’s recently acquired Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints. This collection is an unparalleled resource for the study of Western and Central European perceptions of the Ottoman Empire. It also offers an interesting look into the mind of American collector Edward Binney 3rd (Harvard PhD 1961). It appears that Binney had booksellers and antiquarians on the lookout for any material illustrating Turkish or Ottoman-related subjects.


That has left the collection with a mélange of drawings, engravings, lithographs, aquatints, and even illustrated sheet music, dating from the 15th century to the early 20th century, the work of artists active in Europe and the Middle East. The late Edwin Binney 3rd is better known for his collections of Ottoman and Mughal miniatures, now held by the Harvard Art Museums, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the San Diego Museum of Art. But the substantial and surprising variety of  European prints and ephemera makes this lesser-known collection, donated by his family to the Fine Arts Library, a wonderfully relevant source that traces the visual development of Orientalism.


Compared to painting or literature, prints have been relatively understudied in relation to Orientalist discourse, yet their wide circulation certainly had a profound impact on everyday perceptions of the Ottoman world. The longue durée covered by the Binney collection also provides unique insight into the (often nefarious) practice of repurposing and relabeling prints decades or even centuries after their original creation. Not only does this make it difficult for student catalogers like me to correctly identify works, it has also been a challenge for scholars in the past. Many publications incorrectly identify figures in some recycled prints by the listed caption, without noting the original creator and subject of the image. Thus, these images need to be approached critically, as any label may be intentionally misleading.


Particular strengths of this collection include lithographed 19th c. sheet music, a variety of costume albums and prints, and travelogues illustrated by artists such as Nicolas de Nicolay (1517-1583), Melchior Lorck (1527-ca. 1590), and Claude DuBosc (1682–1745?). While the collection will be of most interest to those studying the development of Orientalist art, there is rich material for Ottomanists, scholars of French and German prints, and literary historians. The great variety of the material in the collection brings new awareness of how Ottoman identity was perceived, visually constructed and projected in cities such as Paris, Berlin, Venice, London, and Madrid.

View of the rooftop of Constantinople depicted in pen and ink

View over the rooftops of Constantinople. Pen and ink drawing by Melchior Lorck, between 1555 and 1559. Statens museum for kunst, Copenhagen.

Aside from historical insight, many of the prints are of high artistic value, especially those by the famed Danish artist Melchior Lorck. The talented and inventive printer Melchior Lorck was no fan of the Ottoman Empire, where he was sent as part of an embassy from the Holy Roman Emperor. The time Lorck spent in Constantinople (1555-1559) seems to have been mostly miserable, spent in intermittent detention by the Ottoman government, which must have contributed to his poor view of the state. Though at first glance, his prints may not seem overtly negative, they contain subversive imagery that paints the empire in a negative light. Take for example, his print of Constantinople’s rooftops. It appears to be an almost photographic impression of a view (maybe from the room where he was staying), with terracotta rooftiles and the lead covered dome of a nearby Islamic building. Closer inspection, however, shows a couple making love in a terraced overhang. Another print in this fashion is one showing the Süleymaniye Mosque complex. While ostensibly focused on the architecture, it features apocalyptic imagery, with the moon (representing Islam) being eclipsed by a mass of clouds, as the bright shining sun (of Christianity) bursts forth. The most comprehensive book on Lorck’s work, by Erik Fischer, often glosses over the political undertones of his prints that viewers will discover at first hand in the Binney collection.

View of mosque in Constantinople. Black and white print

The Süleymaniye Mosque, Constantinople. Print by Melchior Lorck, 1570. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

It is fortunate that this resource is located in an art library, as that facilitates easy comparison with readily available reference tools and secondary materials. This is key, due to the complexity of the collection and the pitfalls of studying prints. The future digitization of this collection will make it a useful tool for all scholars and students of Ottoman history.

A Turkish woman in a traditional dress as a noblewoman with a head piece and clog shoes.

Turkish noblewoman dressed for the house or Seraglio. Colored print by Louis Daret, after a sketch by Nicolas de Nicolay, 1567. The Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Orientalist Prints, Fine Arts Library.

Coloring Book from the Welch Collection

By popular demand, and to brighten your quarantines, the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection has come out with a coloring book! These images are all from this fantastic open-access collection, and we hope you’ll have fun with it.

Feel free to use the links in the coloring book to see the full-color versions, or just go with your imagination! We’d love to see your completed pictures! If you’d like to share, use the hashtags #ColoringWelch and #ColorOurCollections, or tag us at @HarvardFineArtsLibrary on Instagram,  @MENALibAHS on Twitter, #harvardfineartslib on Tumblr, and follow us if you haven’t already.

Click on the image below to download our 2020 coloring book.


Front cover of the coloring book

Coloring Book from the Welch Collection




Stuart Cary Welch Islamic & South Asian Photograph Collection – Part 5. Overview: Islamic Art in Private Collections

This post is the fifth in a series about the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection written by the project’s staff and student catalogers in the Digital Images and Slides Collections of the Fine Arts Library. Written by Alice West.

The importance of our open access Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Digital Images Collection has been noted in this series of blog posts. Yet, since the research, digitization, and cataloging of the collection is an on-going effort, we have not developed any systematic general description of this resource. But as the number of digitized images has grown, we have begun to define broad categories of images that could help researchers and art lovers around the world better understand what the Welch Collection can offer to them. This multi-part series from the project’s staff cataloger Alice West aims to highlight key strengths of the Welch Collection as a whole. In her first post, West describes one of the important subsets of the collection: works in private collections.

In this digital era, it may seem that anything one needs to find is readily available online. Yet researchers in any field, and in the field of Islamic art in particular, know that this perception is deceiving. Relative to the overall number of important Islamic manuscripts and artifacts, the number of their images available online or, for that matter, in print, is surprisingly low. There are many reasons for this, including shortage of technical and financial resources available for digitization efforts, as well as the unwillingness of institutions and private collectors to share their treasures with the public due to economic, political, ownership, and other concerns.

The Welch Collection fills in some of the ‘digital gaps’ by offering images from multiple sources that may not be otherwise available to the public. What are these gaps? One of the largest in terms of accessibility is private collections. Initially assembled for personal enjoyment, many prominent private collections from the late 19th–mid-20th century were later sold, bequeathed, or transferred to permanent hold to public museums and libraries. These include the collections of Calouste Gulbenkian, Victor Goloubew, Nasli Heeramaneck, Edmund de Unger, Leo S. Figiel, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, and many others. The majority of these collections have been fully or partially digitized by the hosting institutions. At the same time, many of the collections stayed private and are closed to the public eye. Although our digitization effort is not completed, we can already say that the Welch Collection holds hundreds of images of paintings, calligraphy, and decorative art that are currently held in otherwise inaccessible private collections, including that of B. W. Robinson, Bedros Sevadjian, Stuart Cary Welch, and many anonymous owners.

Periodically, objects from these collections are offered at auctions such as Sotheby’s or Christie’s, and one may find their images online or in older auction catalogs. These are, however, expensive and not widely available. Even when an image is available on the auctioneer’s website, Welch’s collection, in most cases, offers a superior image or its details (close-ups).


Side-by-side photos of painting from a private collection, illustrating the superior quality of the images from the Welch collection. On left, a bearded man in a jeweled turban and earrings is shown in profile from the waist up, seated formally on a red divan and holding a white teacup. Image has a soft focus and yellow hues. Same photo on right (Welch collection) has dramatically higher resolution.

A Portrait of Raja Bhao Singh of Bundi. 18th century. Private collection. Detail. (Pic. 1a. Left: Photo: Sotheby’s. Pic. 1b. Right: Welch Collection)


An example of one such object is A Portrait of Raja Bhao Singh of Bundi, currently in a private collection. This portrait was sold in May 2006 by Sotheby’s, and its image is still available on the auctioneer’s website (1a. picture on the left). The Welch’s image, however, is obviously crisper and clearer in comparison, and its high resolution also allows for excellent close-ups (1b. picture on the right).


Side-by-side views of a miniature painting, illustrating detail visible only in the close up photos of the Welch collection. Full-view panel on left depicts a ruler sitting cross-legged on a platform surrounded by courtiers, with candles and wine set before him. Worshippers in the background gaze at the new moon from the flat rooftop of a tall building. The detail at right (Welch collection) reveals two young male courtiers in turbans and richly-embroidered clothing, praying with eyes closed and hands raised against a night sky.

Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527, private collection. Full view (Pic. 2a. Left ) and detail (Pic. 2b. Right). Photo: Welch Collection.


Another example is Celebration of ‘Id from a dispersed Divan of Hafez, which is a relatively well-known miniature held by the private Art and History Trust of the Soudavar family and seen in several publications, most notably on the cover of Abolala Soudavar’s large volume of Reassessing Early Safavid Art and History. The Welch collection, however, offers quite a different look at this miniature by providing an amazing level of detail in its forty five unique high-resolution images of the miniature’s different sections (2a – 2d).


Three gem-studded gold bottles with long elegant necks on an elaborately-decorated low hexagonal table.

Pic. 2c. Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527. Detail.  Photo: Welch Collection.


Woman in festive clothing with henna designs on her hands, peeking from behind a window curtain embroidered with gold dragons.

Pic. 2d. Divan of Hafez, Celebration of ‘Id. c. 1527, private collection. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


Of particular interest to researchers are the privately-held works that are not currently available to the public at all, as well as those that are only in limited professional publications as mere descriptions or, at best, as poor quality black-and-white photographs. The Welch Collection will be the only accessible repository where researchers can examine these objects in detail and in color. The beautiful Safavid album drawing below entitled Seated Girl, ca. 1600, is in a private collection in London (pic. 3). It is signed by Habib-allah of Mashhad, one of the artists in the court of Shah ‘Abbas the Great at Isfahan (Iran), and is an example of Habib-allah’s “faultless line,” and the elegant, flowing ease of the Safavid drawings [1].


Ink drawing of a young woman seated outdoors on the ground, beneath orange and purple clouds. Possibly holding a pear. A shawl over her head and shoulders is held in place by a red headband decorated with a black feather just above the forehead. The figure is drawn in contour lines with light touch, while heavier ink highlights the face, eyebrows, and long wavy sidelocks.

Pic. 3. Habib-allah of Mashhad,  Seated Girl. c. 1600, private collection. Photo: Welch Collection.


While our Welch Collection holds only one, full view, digital representation of Seated Girl, another picture from a private collection in Cambridge, MA, entitled Chinese Ladies in a French Chateau Garden, has twelve associated detailed images. Indeed, this painting abounds in different subjects scattered all over that warrant a closer look. Painted in the early 1800s in India, it is attributed, at least partially, to a Mewar artist Chokha and, according to Andrew Topsfield, represents “an anthology of borrowed European and Far Eastern themes, deriving from French fashion prints and mid-18th century Chinese export paintings …” [2]. A single low-resolution full view of this painting is featured in Topsfield’s paper (pic. 4a), but it is Welch’s collection that lets you explore it closer in twelve hi-resolution images of details (pic. 4b-d).


Two ladies in a French garden, standing near a black table with a blue-and-white porcelain vase. One figure holds a flower pot and another a round Chinese fan. A chateau is seen in the background.

Pic. 4a. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Photo: Artibus Asiae.


Tree with pink flowers against rolling blue hills. A small white dragon curls around a branch looking down on a temple.

Pic. 4b. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


Europeans in 18th century fashion, walking among flower beds.

Pic. 4c. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century, Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


A blue-and-white porcelain vase with curved handles and golden lid. The design on the vase depicts a European couple with dog.

Pic. 4d. Chokha (attr.), Chinese ladies in French chateau garden. Early 19th century. Mewar, Rajasthan (India). Private collection, Cambridge, MA. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


A popular image of Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne exists in several versions, one of which is in a private collection. This particular painting with its beautiful margins featuring botanicals and birds is available through Wikimedia, but despite of its large size its details fall far behind the ones from of the Welch Collection (pic. 5b-d).


Two fowl birds, each in its own frame of dark twigs against gold background, looking at each other.

Pic. 5a. Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne. 1634–1635, India, private collection. Detail. Photo: Wikimedia.


High quality image of same bird painting revealing white spotted chest feathers , yellow eyes, rough paper texture, and other details.

Pic. 5b. Shah Jahan on the Peacock Throne. 1634–1635, India, private collection. Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


Finally, we would like to share with you a preparatory study titled Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play from Stuart Cary Welch’s own private collection (pic. 6a-c). As a symbol of intellectual and mental strength in Hinduism and the Indian culture, elephants were a popular subject in Indian art. This baby elephant adorned with golden bells is painted with realism and grace characteristic of the Kotah drawing masters.


Four views of a cheerful gray baby elephant against a yellow background; three kneeling and one standing on hind legs, arranged in a circle. The elephant wears gold bells dangling off a thin white collar. Two small figures, possibly trainers, lunge in opposite directions in top right corner.

Pic. 6a. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–1730, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Full view. Photo: Welch Collection.


Contour line drawing of lunging male figure with hands spread apart, wearing cloth around his waist. There’s a hint of light red on his undergarments and turban.

Pic. 6b. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–30, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


Profile of baby elephant with chin bristles, wrinkles in skin of extended trunk, and a pink tongue in a smiling mouth.

Pic. 6c. Four Views of a Baby Elephant at Play. c. 1720–30, Rajasthan, Kota (India). Detail. Photo: Welch Collection.


To browse rare images from private collections assembled by Stuart Cary Welch, go to and in Advanced Search set Image Repository to “private collection” and Keyword Anywhere to “Welch”.

In subsequent blog posts in this series, we will continue talking about the different categories of images that one can find in the collection. As we continue to catalog these exciting (and open access!) images, we hope that whenever you search our collection, you will find just what you were looking for!


[1] Robinson, B. W. Picture Book of Persian Paintings. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1965, p. 17.

[2] Topsfield, Andrew. “Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar.” Artibus Asiae. Supplementum, Vol. 44, Court Painting at Udaipur: Art under the Patronage of the Maharanas of Mewar (2002), p. 230.



András Riedlmayer puts this war crime on the map

“… if you really want to make a librarian mad, burn down a library.”

András Riedlmayer, Bibliographer in Islamic Art and Architecture at Harvard’s Fine Arts Library, made this comment when asked why he undertook his project to collect, preserve and publicize evidence of the destruction of cultural heritage in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The story about his work in the Balkans is profiled in the Harvard Gazette.

Riedlmayer testified at the UN war crimes tribunal (ICTY) in The Hague in the trials of 14 Serbian and Bosnian Serb officials, as an expert on cultural destruction in the Balkans. Among the defendants was former Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević, accused of war crimes and genocide in Kosovo and Bosnia. Although Milošević died of a heart attack before the ICTY could deliver a verdict in his case, 11 of the others were convicted and sent to prison.

Read more about his ongoing efforts to preserve documentation on the cultural heritage of the Balkans and its fate in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, in the Harvard Gazette.


A young man squatting on the ground to pick up and look at torn and burned religious texts inside the village mosque, torched by Serbian soldiers in 1999. The man is photographed from the side, wearing a dark clothing. The ground is rabbled with pieces of concretes and debris. In the background, burned marks on the concrete wall is visible.

Carralevë, Kosovo. Agim Orllatë, a Kosovar Albanian university student who worked with Riedlmayer as an interpreter, looks at torn religious texts inside the village mosque, torched by Serbian soldiers in 1999. (Photo courtesy of András Riedlmayer)


Burned book of a Qur’an, opened to show its pages ripped from its binding and partially burned. The edges of book pages are burned.

Remains of a Qur’an, its pages ripped from its binding and partially burned, among the items collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)


Riedlmayer looking down on a selection of damaged book pages laid out on the table in the office. He is wearing gloves to handle fragile remains of the torn books.

Riedlmayer selecting damaged book pages to be sent for an exhibition on cultural heritage and war, held at the Imperial War Museum in London in 2019. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)


A selection of the damaged pages of books and manuscripts laid on a table. There are two rows and four columns of stacked pages.

A selection of the damaged pages of books & manuscripts collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. These damaged books were written in a number of languages: Arabic, Albanian, Ottoman Turkish, Bosnian, Serbian. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)


A monthly church bulletin, written in Serbian, with partially burned marks. The cover of the bulletin includes a black and white image of religious painting. A couple of burned holes were made from the fire.

A partially burned monthly church bulletin from a Serbian Orthodox monastery chapel at Buzovik, Kosovo, targeted in a revenge attack by Kosovo Albanians after the end of the war. One of the items collected by Riedlmayer during his fieldwork in Kosovo in Oct. 1999. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)


Close-up image of the cover of a damaged and desecrated book. The cover includes an ornate border, but the text is difficult to read due to the fire damage.

One of the damaged and desecrated books & manuscripts collected by Riedlmayer in Oct. 1999 from the village mosque in Carralevë, Kosovo. (Photo: Naoe Suzuki)

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