The interpretation of paintings - especially of Old Masters - has occupied art historians for generations. Rarely however have they attempted to place the subject of their research in its wider political and international context. So what can we learn, for example, about the state of 15th-century Europe by studying some of the great paintings of the time? In this innovative work, Abolala Soudavar examines seven paintings by some of the great masters of the 15th century and demonstrates how we can better understand the state of international relations and the political rivalries of the time by decoding the figures, their postures and gestures, the background scenes, the compositions and much else in these paintings.The result offers some extraordinary solutions to long-standing puzzles, which illuminate both the paintings and our understanding of the period. By decoding these paintings, Soudavar has altered the landscape of our understanding of 15th-century Art and opened the door to a kind of political and historical analysis of high culture which will affect how we study the history of art in future generations.
Abolala Soudavar is a scholar and collector whose articles have appeared in a number of academic journals. His publications include Art of the Persian Courts and The Aura of Kings: Legitimacy and Divine Sanction in Iranian Kingship.