“La ville de Genève et son trésor caché : Collection d'art persan au musée d'art et d'histoire”

by Negar Habibi, University of Geneva

14 March 2022, 6:30pm 


Geneva has always been at the heart of all political and commercial relations between the West and the East. It also holds treasures of many oriental civilizations like Paris or London. In 1967, Jean Pozzi, the French minister plenipotentiary, bequeathed his Persian collection to the Museum of Art and History of Geneva (MAH), and since then the city of Geneva, like New York or Washington, has conserved one of the most emblematic Persian collections of 20th century Europe.
It consists of some 600 manuscript paintings, or paintings and drawings on single pages and calligraphic folios dating from the early 14th to the late 19th century. Many of these works are considered today to be cornerstones of the book arts and masterpieces of illustration in the Iranian world. The richness of these works and the crucial role they play in the history of Islamic art can be compared with the role played by the works of Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Holbein, as well as Gérôme and Cézanne in the West. Indeed, the MAH offers to the general public as well as to specialists a rich, prodigious and exploitable source of Persian art.
In addition, there is an undeniable wealth of Persian art in other museums in Geneva. The Ariana Museum, the most important museum of ceramics in Switzerland, houses several hundred Iranian objects from the 12th to the 19th century. Private institutions such as the Bodmer Foundation also hold some of the rarest Iranian masterpieces. In addition, in 1997, the library of the University of Geneva received from an Iranian foundation, now dissolved, some 15,000 books and academic journals on religion, history, literature and art in the world influenced by the Persian language and culture. 
Reviewing the Persian treasures of Geneva, this paper presents an in-depth view of the Persian "miniatures" collection of the MAH. Making such a collection known in Switzerland would indeed contribute to the richness of Geneva's cultural heritage.



Conference organised by the Egyptian-Swiss Cultural Association

Venue: L'Olivier Bookshop, Geneva

Free admission - reservation: gihane9(at)

Majnūn protected by his animals, 1st half of the 19st century, gouache on paper assembled between two marbled and dotted papers on a dark blue album page, 299 x 197 mm, MAH 1971-0107-0542. Museum of Art and History, Geneva. Jean Pozzi Estate, 1971.