Eleanor Sims

Editor, Islamic Art


Eleanor Sims was educated at Mills College, in Oakland, California, and took both an M.A. and a Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City; concurrently with the M.A. she completed a program in Museum Training at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She then worked in its Department of Islamic Art before travelling, in Europe and the Middle East, on doctoral research. She has taught the history of Islamic art in both the US and the UK; in the US she organized a travelling loan-exhibition of Islamic art to celebrate the 1400th anniversary of the Hijra; and, since 1982, she has edited the journal Islamic Art together with her husband, Ernst J. Grube (first Curator of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and now Professor Emeritus at the University of Venice). Forthcoming publications include her catalogue of the paintings in the Nasser David Khalili Collection, and a monograph on a 15th-century Shiraz Khamsa of Nizami in the Edmund de Unger Collection now deposited in the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin.

Through the 1970s, Sims returned to Iran for a series of working trips, primarily to study the wall paintings of 17th-century Safavid Isfahan; in that period she was also commissioned to catalogue a series of life-size oil paintings on canvas that were both remarkably similar to – and at the same time, puzzlingly different from – almost any Safavid paintings then generally known. Since 1976, short studies on related subjects – Armenian architectural wall paintings in Isfahan, later Iranian oil painting, a study of the premier 17th-century Iranian eclectic painter Muhammed Zaman, Ottoman-focused life-size oil paintings – and much work on more typical 17th-century Safavid painting have helped to provide the background for her current thinking about the Safavid oil paintings in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha that are her subject for this Symposium.

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