Originally posted by rwingett
Have you looked at much Islamic art? Some of it is very stylized and some of it is much more "realistic." If we look at Islamic book illustration, for example, we see a higher degree of stylization in the Safavid manuscripts, but in many of the Mughal manuscripts we see a greater degree of naturalism, although this could be due to a greater degree of Europe ...[text shortened]... there's no monolithic "Islamic" art style out there. It varies by location and time frame.
I'm aware that Islamic illustrations varied considerably over time and across different regions. I acknowledged that in the first post, which, being rather long, you may have overlooked.
These points are not about Islamic art as such; I am commenting on the author's use of the art up to 1590 and the introduction into it of "Frankish" influence to make the center of his novel revolve around how the art of both East and West reflected attitudes about reality and how it should be depicted and perceived.
I am becoming increasingly convinced as I read this book that Pamuk is most concerned with the question of how authoritarianism affects these attitudes.
Again, Pamuk is talking about Islamic art and "Frankish" art of around 1590 and earlier, not later. For example, the ideal for the Islamic art for miniaturists in the Istanbul of 1590 is said by Pamuk to be that of the masters of the city of Herat. He also refers to the influence of the "Chinese masters." There are a lot of references to the Safavid tradition, or Persian masters.
I do not recall much said about any influence coming from Hindustan or Akbar's Mughal manuscripts -- I am aware that Akbar assembled a royal atelier, first at Fatehpur Sikri, then at Lahore, from which he commissioned numerous illustrated manuscripts that incorporate Persian, Indian, and even European elements.
Although I haven't seen a direct reference as yet, I'm aware also that in Venice during the second half of the sixteenth century, costume books emerged as a popular new genre and reflect a greater curiosity about foreign cultures derived from travels and new discoveries.
Venice and the Veneto, where at least nine examples were published between 1540 and 1610, played a leading role in the costume book's early development. The most famous and important example is Cesare Vecellio's Degli abiti antichi et moderni di diverse parti del mondo of 1590, which became a model of the genre.
That probably served as the inspiration for Pamuk's novel. The issue of depicting through portraiture the actual image of a person as distinct from other persons is a theme established from the viewpoints of different characters and even symbols -- chapters narrated by a tree, a horse, death itself. The idea that a miniaturist could paint an image of a specific person -- so one could distinguish the face illustrated from that of any other face and recognize who that image represented, is the basis of the central murder mystery of the book.
There is a lot of reference to the constant wars between the Ottomans and the Safavids. I did look at examples of Ottoman and Safavid book illustrations of about 1600: