Are Rubaiyat illustrations largely a matter of visual kitsch?
In an article recently posted on his website, Bob Forrest has gone back to an interesting question raised by Robert Irwin in his review of our book The Art of Omar Khayyam published by I B Taurus in 2007. The review, in the Times Literary Supplement of 13.07.07, suggested that the book was ‘mostly an encyclopedia of visual kitsch’. Irwin also drew attention to the limited number of well-known book illustrators who had illustrated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Bob Forrest discusses the issue of ‘visual kitsch’ in the context both of the wider phenomenon of the Omar Cult and the parallel illustration of other key books particularly The Arabian Nights about which Irwin has written. Bob also considers in some detail the ‘roll-call of artists who never illustrated the Rubaiyat’ and he provides much information about them and their involvement with the poem that is certainly new to these readers. His article is a valuable contribution to the study of the influence of FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat on artistic work and in other fields, and its relationship to wider artistic developments. The full analysis together with illustrations can be found on http://bobforrestweb.co.uk/The_Rubaiyat/N_and_Q/Irwin_Critique/Irwin.htm.