Institut français
d’archéologie orientale du Caire


Catalogue des publications

AnIsl040_art_05.pdf (0.92 Mb)
Extrait pdf de l’ouvrage :
Annales islamologiques 40
2006 IFAO
31 p.
gratuit - free of charge
Quṣayr ʿAmra, la peinture du personnage trônant sur l’eau: aspects pratiques de la fabrication d’une image.

In an attempt to identify a prevailing theme in the umayyad’s wall painting from Quṣayr ‘Amra (a bath house built in Jordan during the 8th century) depicting a prince seated on his throne above a nilotic landscape, scholars have devised elaborate and overly inventive interpretations. In this paper, we asked whether a set of material circumstances of production could be pertinent to our understanding of this painting. To answer this question, we used a new “ processual and formal approach ” by making a number of inferences drawn from the more obvious circumstances that suround the painting : the architectural context (function and shape), the framing devices, the craftmen’s method of work and the availibility of subjects in artistic traditions of the late antique period. We found that the architectural context defined as the curve of the alcove vault and a throne room determined the choice of subjects and their arrangement. The formal circumstances appear as decisive factors in the creative process in umayyad iconography. Our account also helps to clarify the painter’s way of handling an inherited form. By comparing the umayyad picture with its forerunners from Byzantine, Coptic, Sassanian and pre-islamic Arabian craft traditions, we have demonstrated that the formula used is no prescriptive model to which the artist must conform. Rather, it is an established formal scheme, open to variations in its combination of motifs. We conclude that this umayyad painting must be seen not as a copy of an ancient model, but as the outcome of particular circumstances of production and as a deliberate re-creation. At this point, one might suggest a close similarity between the crafmen’s method of work and the “formulaic technique” used in umayyad poetry.