The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800, The Pelican History of Art

Anne Henri, Stierlin, S Sheila, Jonathan Blair, Bloom
1997 unpublished
INTRODUCTION With the publication of a splendid full color luxury book by the noted team of Henri Stierlin and Anne Stierlin, the study of Mamluk art and architecture has finally made it into the Big Time. 1 The Stierlins, who have previously brought us books on Islamic architecture, Mughal architecture, Ottoman architecture, and the Alhambra, have now brought us the first affordable ($59.50) coffee-table book on Mamluk art and architecture. Dramatic long shots compete with exquisite details
more » ... xquisite details for the viewer's attention which, in the tradition of architectural photography, is rarely, if ever, distracted by the presence of people, apart from the picturesque natives populating reproductions of David Roberts's nineteenth-century lithographs. The stunning photographs of Mamluk buildings and objects will explain to even the most sceptical audiences why Mamluk art has had its devotees for over a century; the text, infelicitously translated from the French, is mercifully brief and appears oblivious of the content (although not the titles) of recent scholarship on the subject. Now that Mamluk architecture has its picture book, it seems an especially appropriate time to undertake the daunting invitation by the Mamluk Studies Workshop to review recent work on Mamluk art and architectural history. Unlike most contributors to this learned journal, I do not consider myself a specialist in Mamluk anything; I have, however, over the last fifteen years written on, edited, and reviewed general and specific aspects of Mamluk art and architecture. 2 I have therefore approached this invitation not from the perspective of Mamluk studies Middle East Documentation Center. The University of Chicago. * This article is a revised version of a lecture given on October 17, 1997 at the Mamluk Studies Workshop convened by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of