Anna Contadini

Anna Contadini is Professor (full) of the History of Islamic Art and Director of the “Treasures of SOAS Project” at SOAS, University of London. She is also the Director of the international project “The Pisa Griffin and the Lion”. She has just finished her 4-year term as Director of the School of Arts at SOAS (2014-18). Her areas of interest are Arabic and Persian illustrated manuscripts, material culture of the Islamic world, and the artistic and cultural connections between the Middle East and Europe, especially Italy.

Her publications span studies of illustrated manuscripts, text and image in Islamic art, questions of materiality and transculturation, and the agency of objects within a broader artistic and social-historical context. She has just finished a project on the Pisa Griffin and the Mari-Cha Lion and she is currently working on a project on illustrated medieval manuscripts of the Maghreb and Spain.

She will take part of Visting Professors Program designed by EHESS, on proposal of Anna Caiozzo (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne).



Cultural and artistic connections between the Middle East and Europe during the Renaissance

Beyond rivalry and sporadic military conflict, relations between the Ottoman Empire and Europe, Venice especially, were marked by exchange through trade. Europe imported carpets, fabrics and various artifacts, incorporated designs and then exported its own fabrics back. This seminar explores the relationship between the resulting dynamics of style transfer and an emerging intellectual engagement with the Islamic world.

  • 7 February 2019, 15:30-16:30 - Collège de France (room 5) - 1 Place Marcelin Berthelot 75231 Paris.


Illustrated Books on Animals within the Manuscript Culture of the Arab World

This seminar will explore illustrated manuscripts of the Arab and Persianate world during the medieval period. With a focus on the literature on “books on animals”, it  will seek to put into a textual and cultural context illustrations that have often been studied in isolation, and will link them to other manuscript traditions of the period, including Syriac and Coptic.

  • 14 February 2019, 10:00-12:00 - INHA (room EPHE) - 2 rue Vivienne 75002 Paris.


The Circulation of Middle Eastern Objects in the pre-modern period and their interpretation within new cultural settings

This seminar will explore changing perceptions of the Pisa Griffin and other objects and will present for the first time a range of new finding stemming from my long-standing research involvement with the Pisa Griffin and the Mari-Cha Lion. It will also discuss issues of transculturation, showing how a close focus on individual artefacts can help to answer broader historical, cultural and technological questions that span ideological divides.

  • 19 février 2019, 17:00-19h:00 - EHESS, CIEAS (room A 737) - 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris.


The Inscribed Object: the relationship between text and image on Middle Eastern objects

Following on from my research on text and image in illustrated manuscripts, this seminar will shift the focus to the relationship between text and image on artefacts. To be explored are the connections, and sometimes the complex interplay, between the cultural allusions of the verbal message, the range of visual references implied by the image, their spatial disposition on the object and their relationship with the object itself.

  • 21 February 2019, 14:00-16:00 - EHESS, IISMM - 96 bd Raspail 75006 Paris.