Louvre Abu Dhabi loans Samanid-era bowl and Josef Albers work to Oman's National Museum

One-year agreement underscores strength of collaborative relationship

The bowl with a two-colour inscription, originates from central Asia between the 10th and 11th centuries CE. Photo: Louvre Abu Dhabi
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Louvre Abu Dhabi is loaning two significant pieces from its collection to the National Museum of the Oman.

The pieces are distinct from each other, offering unique examples of Islamic art and modern abstraction. They will be displayed in Oman for one year.

A Samanid-era bowl made some time between the 10th and 11th centuries is one of the loans. It was crafted within the regions of Khorasan and Transoxiana, which lay on the ancient Silk Roads. The bowl is crafted with Arabic proverbs, or amthal, inscribed in black and brown calligraphy. The designs reflect on the Hadith and the wisdom of Ali ibn Abi Talib, a cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

The bowl will be displayed at the National Museum’s Splendours of Islam gallery. It will be a highlight of the many artefacts representing centuries of Islamic history.

Homage to the Square is the other artwork being lent by Louvre Abu Dhabi. The painting was created in 1963 by US-German artist Josef Albers. It is part of the artist’s Homage to the Square series, which he began in 1950 as an exploration of colour theory and optical effects.

In the painting being lent to the National Museum, varying shades of green are superimposed over each other as squares, the palest of which is nestled at its centre and marked with textures that evoke spatial depth.

Albers’ painting will be exhibited in Oman at the National Museum's World Gallery, and has been selected as a way of embedding an example of European and American contemporary art within the museum’s collection.

The loan agreement sustains the collaborative relationship between Louvre Abu Dhabi and Oman’s National Museum. The institutions previously worked together on Gardens of Paradise: The Language of Flowers in Iznik Ceramics, an exhibition that opened at the National Museum in December 2021.

The show examined the art of ceramics that thrived in Iznik in the Anatolia region between the 15th and 17th centuries. The exhibition delved into the floral and symbolic motifs found in the ceramics, showing how they were inspired by descriptions of the gardens of paradise found in the Quran. The exhibition featured several pieces lent from Abu Dhabi institute.

The National Museum has also lent artefacts to Louvre Abu Dhabi, most notably a shell-sharpened incense holder made between the 12th and 14th century, an Omani dagger dating back to the 19th-century Al-Busaidi dynasty, and a copper inkwell from the early 20th century.

Updated: May 20, 2024, 9:45 AM