Behzad, Kemaleddin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Behzad, Kemaleddin


Born circa 1455, in Herat; died there 1535–36, according to other information, in Tabriz. Miniaturist; the greatest master of the Herat school of miniatures, which exerted a powerful influence on the miniatures of Iran, India, and Middle Asia.

Behzad studied with Mirak Naqqash, who was in charge of the palace studio in Herat where artistic manuscripts were prepared (according to other sources, Behzad’s teacher was Sa’id Ahmad Tabrizi). He worked in the same studio. He moved to Tabriz in 1510 and became head of the shah’s studio in 1522. Although faithful to the conventions of medieval miniature painting (local color, flatness), Behzad depicted man and nature on the basis of actual observations which he incorporated into his work with a force and persuasiveness unprecedented in Eastern miniature. Highly esteemed by his contemporaries, his work is distinguished for the delicacy of the drawings, richness of the colors, and liveliness of the positions and gestures of the persons depicted. A composition often unfolds on two adjoining sheets with a large number of personages and an abundance of delicate detail. His works include miniatures for Sa’di’s Bustan (1488, Egyptian National Library, Cairo), for Zafar-name (1490’s; date of the manuscript 1467, Johns Hopkins University Library, Baltimore), and for Nizami’s Khamse (1490’s, British Museum, London) and miniatures in the collection of the M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library in Leningrad and portraits of Sultan Husein (end of the 15th century, F. Martin’s collection, Stockholm) and Shaibanikhan (circa 1507, private collection, United States).


Ettinghausen, R. E. “Bihzād.” In Encyclopédie de l’Islam, new edition, vol. 1, books 19–20. Leiden-Paris, 1959–60. Pages 1247–50.
Pinder-Wilson, R. “Bihzād.” In Encyclopedia of World Art, vol. 2. New York-Toronto-London [I960].
Mustafa, M. Persian Miniatures of Behzād and His School. London, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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