Persian miniatures (Negārgarī Irani)

Hunting scene by Abbas Moayeri

Séance des amoureux by Abbas Moayeri, 1993

Details of painting, black and gold, by Abbas Moayeri

The Art of Persian miniature

In Iran, in Asia and all over the world, there are traces of this art named « miniature ». During the XIIIth and XVIth centuries, many schools of Persian miniature developed, each of them having its own style. Persian miniature largely expanded: schools among the most famous were created in Tabriz and Herat and later in Ispahan.

More recently, the great Master Hossein Behzâd (1894-1968) became the leader of a new school of miniaturist painters. Influenced by western art which he discovered in the French museums, he introduced a new style of miniature and acquired an exceptional reputation among contemporary miniaturists. Greatly inspired by the miniatures of the Safavid period at his beginnings, he seeked to mix tradition and modernity.

Abbas Moayeri (1939-2020), our referring master, born in Iran, was precisely the student of Hossein Behzâd and his successor at the School of Fine Arts in Tehran. Since 1970, Abbas Moayeri has been living in Paris where he tried to preserve and transmit the artistic aspect of this traditional art of Persian miniature. He divided his time between teaching, his work and numerous exhibitions. His sumptuous hunting scenes are highly prized by collectors and true connoisseurs of Persian miniature. As a painter and sculptor, he received numerous awards through his exhibitions. He also gave conferences on the history of Persian miniature.

From the XIIIth century to the XVIIth, miniatures were used to illustrate manuscripts, especially the classics of Persian miniature: the shahnameh of Ferdowsi, the khamseh of Nizâmi, the boustan or the golestan of Saadi. Their small size was linked to this function as well as the commonly adopted vertical orientation of miniatures.

The paper used from the 9th/10th century was made of linen fibres. Colours were obtained from natural or artificial pigments. Most brushes were made of squirrel tail hair. Hair of persian cats was also used.

Miniature is always painted inside a frame which represents an opening towards an ideal world, made of beauty and dream. “Beauty is the perception of eternity”. Today its size may vary and the paper called “peau d’éléphant” is aesthetically the most closed to the paper used in the past. Colours must be soft in general. Nowadays, gouache is used for surfaces.

The classical composition includes generally: a garden surrounded by a barrier; water – canal, river, lake -; a key figure under a kiosk or a canopy; courtiers and servants but also hunters. Characters seem to float in space: they are not attached to the land on which they are painted. The charm of Persian miniature comes from its elegance, slight curves and the refinement of its very numerous details. Miniature must not take into account the perspective or too much realism: it opens to the dream, to “Persian paradises”.

Trained in Persian miniatures techniques by Abbas Moayeri, Marie-Noëlle Robert says "The staging of certain Persian miniatures reminds me of opera staging. The stories of the mythical couples of Persian literature, Leila and Madjun, Khosrow and Shirin… recall those of Tristan and Yseult, of Romeo and Juliet".

Persian miniature leaves room to imagination and individual sensitivity, even if techniques are traditional, and allows each one to project in very different worlds, as miniatures presented here can demonstrate.

In our introduction, we selected two miniatures very representative of the work of the talented Abbas Moayeri.

Abbas Moayeri

Homage to Abbas Moayeri
Our great master in Persian miniature passed away at the end of autumn 2020. He knew our admiration, he also had our affection. His personality federated, his openness to others seduced, his affectionate warmth prevailed. Beyond the artistic technique, he took us into history, from Persia to Iran. As a recognized painter, a miniaturist of international renown, he will always have his place in the world of art. As for us, it is with all the more emotion and pride that we continue the
practice of this art of Persian miniature that Abbas Moayeri wanted more than anything to tr



The King of Persia Bahrâm Gûr and the princesses of seven pavillions
after a poem by Nizami (12th century), by Claudine Gillot




 Paradise garden, after the Bihbahan manuscript (1938),
Istanbul Museum of Turkish Art, by Claudine Gillot, 2021





 Eden garden, after the Bihbahan manuscript (1938),
Istanbul Museum of Turkish Art, by Claudine Gillot, 2023

The warrior's rest by Helene Barrieu

Round of horses at dawn

Relaxing by Helene Barrieu

Enchantment by Hélène Barrieu


Majnun approaching the camp of Leïli,
after a miniature of the Haft Awrang of Jami
made for Sultan Ibrahim Mirza in the 16th century, 
by Gérard Verrouil

The ascension of the prophet,
after a miniature from Khamseh of Nizami,
attributed to Soltan Mohammed (16e c.),
by Gérard Verrouil


Battle scene by Gérard Verrouil, 2022

Yousouf celebrated at the court before his marriage to Zoulayka,
after a miniature of Sheikh Mohammad,
by Gérard Verrouil

Abdul Kassem transporte sa bibliothèque par Claudine Gillot


The Annunciation by Claudine Gillot

The musician and the philosopher in a garden par Ma Padioleau

The prince and the bird by Ma Padioleau

Shirin in the bath by Claudine Gillot

Farahd and Shirin by Claudine Gillot

The seven dormants by Claudine Gillot




Dervich antiquarian in Ispahan by Claudine Gillot


Bijen and Manijeh by Claudine Gillot

Delayed letter by Claudine Gillot

Miniature Illumination by Helene Barrieu

Courtiers by Hélène Barrieu



Ferdowsi and the poets of Ghazneh,
after a miniature from the Shahnameh, 9th century
bt Ma Padioleau, 2023

Romance by Ma Padioleau

The master's teaching by Ma Padioleau