عنوان مقاله [English]
Riza Abbasi’s signatures were unprecedented in Persian painting in both quality and quantity. Although the advent of signatures in Persian painting goes back to several centuries earlier and it became common practice for painters to insert their generally concealed signatures into their works toward the end of the sixteenth century, Riza, the noted painter of the Isfahan school of art, was the one who dared to trespass on the lofty realm of calligraphers and to use their signing and inscribing manners. In addition to signing his name, he puts conspicuous inscriptions on single-sheet works and also on manuscript illustrations which seldom carried inscriptions previously and thus enunciates autonomy for the art which was broadly considered a heteronomous one; the painter’s name and the painting’s completion date are manifestly provided alongside the calligrapher’s name and execution date. Riza even outstripped calligraphers in recording different aspects of his making conditions in the writings. In fact, he broadened the definition of signing, which formerly was just meant to establish the authenticity of the artwork and to record the name of the painter, and was followed by his epigones in this field, too. This article aims to discuss Riza Abbasi’s presence in his works through his autography and poses two questions: Firstly, what features do Riza’s signatures and inscriptions have and how do they develop through his career? And secondly, how do the autographs represent the painter’s artistic characteristics? Signature is generally categorized as a verbal self-reflective phenomenon, but when its visual features and form are also taken into consideration —such as the execution manner and position— it will change into something more than mere words; with the addition of this aspect, it can take a dual role in examinations. This study, using grounded theory as its methodology, has examined Riza’s writings from both viewpoints. It is comprised of two sections; one is descriptive and the other is analytic. In section one, a detailed description of the artist’s signatures and inscriptions has been provided. First, his signatures have been divided into two categories and their features and transition process have been discussed. This descriptive section shows that unlike the later ones, Riza’s earlier signatures were inconstant and are not to be found in all the works belonging to the first category; a fact which alludes to a transformation in Riza’s perception of his status in the middle of his career. Moreover, other scholars’ statements on the subject have been reviewed in this section, to wit, the contentious issue of the time at which the title of “Abbasi” was conferred upon Riza by Shah Abbas the Great, or conceivably was taken by him of his own volition. The present article, furnishing some convincing evidence (chiefly by denying the authenticity of the pre-1610 signatures which bear the title), has determined the year 1610 AD (1018 AH), which was a turning point in Riza’s career, as the date he earned the epithet; thereafter, he signed each and every one of his works —single-sheet works and illustrations— by using a visually and verbally constant phrase (“Work of the humble Riza-e ‘Abbasi”), calligraphically executed and aesthetically pleasing, which attracts the beholders’ attention at once. No changes were introduced to his signature for about thirty years. This consistency could affirm the genuineness of his works and is an eloquent reminder of the artist’s resolute character. Then, a thorough examination of the inscriptions is provided in which their content and writing manner have been dealt with in detail. The description exhibits the artist’s creativeness, talent, and pertinacity. Lastly, in the analytic section, the manner of signing and inscribing —including the painter’s penmanship, the positions and features of the signatures and inscriptions, and the information they contain— has been analyzed to trace the representation of the painter’s status, state, and viewpoints. The study has observed the manifestation of Riza’s artistic characteristics in his signing and has found his autography to be a true reflection of his presence in his works. Indeed, the artist who enjoys painterly self-consciousness, uses his inscriptions to chronicle his creating conditions. He provides the precise completion date, which is indicative of his worldly concerns. He names either the master whose work has been imitated, the portrayed figure, or the person for whom the work is created, which bears testimony to his preoccupation with individuality. He has noted the reasons and motivations for producing the works, too. By means of inscriptions, Riza has tried to communicate with the audience and by employing certain terms, he has accentuated the distance of representation (the distinction between presentation and representation) and reminded the observers that they are beholding a made-up picture. Riza Abbasi’s signatures and inscriptions are the declarations of the artist’s elevated social status and portray him as a gifted, creative, innovative, perceptive, persevering, adamant, consummate, extrovert, self-assured, and influential painter.