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The Large Audience: Life-sized Stucco Figures of Royal Princes from the Seljuq Period

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A pair of almost life-sized polychrome stucco sculptures attributed to the Seljuq period in Iran was closely examined prior to the reinstallation of the Islamic galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011. Iconographical analysis of their crowns and other accoutrements suggests that they represent a pair of royal figures that were once part of a larger decorative program dated to 1050–1150. Given the itinerant nature of the Seljuq court, it is proposed that this stucco decoration was created for a temporary reception structure, or kūshk, probably in western Iran. While scientific analyses have indicated that much if not all of the polychromy is modern, technical examination of the plaster used to create these figures and related examples in other collections is ongoing. 


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