One Thousand and One Ways to Sell — Marketing Decorated Books and Album Paintings from Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Lands in Europe and America c. 1850-1950

One Thousand and One Ways to Sell — Marketing Decorated Books and Album Paintings from Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian Lands in Europe and America c. 1850-1950
10 November 2020, 4.00pm - 5.30pm
Conference / Symposium

The Demotte Gallery and the sale of Persian Art (1907-1935)

Christine Vivet-Peclet, Responsable du centre de documentation – Musée des monuments français – Cité de l architecture et du patrimoine - Paris

The Demotte Gallery is best known among Persian book art specialists for owning the Great Mughal Shah Nameh in its entirety before the First World War and dismembering it in order to sell it to a greater number of amateurs.

This gallery is important in this area in other ways thanks to the successive actions of its directors Georges Joseph and Lucien Demotte. In less than thirty years, they assembled an important collection of manuscripts sold in France and the United States.

Joseph and Lucien participated in the promotion of this art by lending their collections to national and international events, and organizing large-scale exhibitions in their own galleries. The catalogues that accompany them are pure commercial tools but also offer a history of the art of the Persian book, a scientific analysis of the objects and call on the greatest specialists. Thus, one of these exhibitions was presented in the gallery and then in three American museums, which questions the boundary between the worlds of the art market and museums.

The study of the various catalogues of the gallery allows us to follow the evolution of the discourse on the art of the Persian book, the place given to the notices and illustrations as well as the reception of these exhibitions. In particular, between the first catalogue dated 1913 and the last one dated 1934, we follow the evolution of the taste of amateurs, which goes from the simple delight of a beautiful image to knowledge of Persian literature and culture.

Reaching the Popular Culture: Displaying modern Egypt through Illustrated

Books and Advertising Ephemera in London and Paris around 1850

Paulina Banas, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1848, the British publisher James Madden released an illustrated travel book on Islamic Egypt, entitled the Oriental album: characters, costumes, and modes of life, in the valley of the Nile. This luxury publication included, among other visual and textual components, thirty-two large size colored lithographs presenting people and villages of the Nile Valley. These illustrations were meant to produce on its readers an experience that could be analogous to that of travelling,” according to one contemporary reviewer. This experience of indulging in a luxury volume and receiving a glimpse of modern Egypt had already been marketed to British armchair travelers a few years before the book was published through a number of printed pamphlets and advertisements commissioned by the publisher.

This paper will analyze the process of marketing of the Oriental album and other illustrated albums on modern Egypt sold (often by subscription) in London and Paris around 1850, such as David Roberts The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia (1842-49) and Prosper Barbot and Alexandre Bida s Souvenirs d’Égypte (1851). This marketing process included the production of advertising ephemera and occasional public display of illustrations from these volumes. By doing so, this study points out the commercialism inherent in the process of publishing works which promulgated the difference between cultures for the British and French public. It will also showcase the role that illustrated books played in creating a public platform of display of modern Egypt in London and Paris before the advent of universal exhibitions.

Unless stated otherwise, all our events are free of charge and anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend. Registration is required for all events. Please sign up using the booking form below.


IES Events
020 7862 8683