Walters Art Museum announces Paradise Imagined. The Garden in the Islamic and Christian World

The Walters Art Museum presents Paradise Imagined. The Garden in the Islamic and Christian World, an exhibition on view June 30–September 23, 2012.

Gardens have functioned as spaces of invention, imagination and mythmaking, as well as places of repose and recreation, for different cultures across time. This focus show of 33 works highlights literary and visual images of the garden in the Islamic and Christian traditions. Through illuminated manuscripts and illustrated books, the visitor is invited to explore the art of the garden as an expression of religious devotion, kingly justice, poetic inspiration and carnal love.

French, “Kings in a Garden”, Chronique des Rois de France (Chronicle of the Kings of France), late 15th century, ink and paint on paper and vellum, 15 3/8 x 11”, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (W.306.11r)

The ideal garden in Muslim and Christian belief derives from visions of Paradise, as described in the Qur’an, the Bible and other sacred texts. Detailed descriptions of the garden in word and image also figure largely in nonreligious works, including historical chronicles. Illuminated manuscripts from 15th-century France and 16th-century Mughal India, despite their broad cultural divide, similarly depict royal personages in a cultivated landscape that alludes to notions of just rule and kingly practice, while highlighting the grandeur associated with courtly culture. The garden is also often represented as a space for transformation and instruction. In both Islamic and Christian texts one encounters the garden as a symbolic center embodying an important lesson and inspiring contemplative imagination.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Walters, Goucher College and Morgan State University.

The Walters Art Museum
600 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
T: 410.547.9000
E: [email protected]

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