Loading Spinner

Islamic Paintings

Art of the Islamic world, as much about a religious practice as a way of life, has been in development as a distinct style since the seventh century. Islam has produced a variety of art, design, and architectural masterpieces. Geometric patterns placed in rugs and tiles, as well as in the pages of religious texts like the Q’ran, are a trademark of Islamic style. Calligraphy and figurative representation are also key components of Islamic art.

In the 19th century, Western artists, caught in the fever of Romanticism, began to use Islamic-inspired scenery and themes in their paintings. This was called Orientalism. There were paintings of Islamic religious life, such as open, airy paintings of Muslims at worship. The Orientalists also painted scenes of everyday life. All of these scenes were idealized, romanticized, for the enjoyment of a Western audience.

Today, works of art ranging from beautifully decorated manuscripts to Western Orientalist works, all either part of or inspired by the Islamic artistic tradition, are highly sought by private collectors as well as major museums. Contemporary artists also explore the major themes of Islamic cultural identify in new works making new use of the ancient motifs.

Quick Facts

  • "June femme sur une terrasse," 1889, by Frederick-Arthur Bridgman, is an example of the 19th century Romantic fascination with exotic forms, including Islamic motifs. It sold for €133,500 at Sotheby’s Paris in 2014
  • "Tchaar-Bagh," 1981, an oil and acrylic painting by contemporary Iranian artist Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, sold for $1.6 million in a Sotheby’s Dubai sale in 2008
  • An early Qur’an leaf on vellum sold at Christie’s London in 2008 for £2.4 million against an estimate of only £100,000 - £150,000

There are currently no items in Islamic Paintings. Please click another category to see additional items.