In Roxburgh’s essay, he discusses the difficulty in making the connection between artist and artwork without signatures or written sources. The essay brings up the point of how viewers tend to make problematic assumptions when placing authorship on a work of art. Roxburgh uses the breadth of Bihzad’s artwork to prove why paintings can’t be given ownership based on similarities in style, composition or technique.
Many art historians often use books or written sources in order to identify an artist. However, there is an absence of books which provide description about Persianate paintings. Roxburgh believes it’s this distance between written text and artwork, which causes historians to make problematic assumptions about the authorship of a work of art. They begin to look for similarities in style, composition, value, technique and color, but not all paintings were meant to be viewed in this scope. Roxburgh thinks it’s not these features that cause Persianate paintings to come alive, but rather “the perfect and minute execution of detail.” Persianate works often demonstrated an equality of attention and detail throughout the piece; there didn’t seem to be one area which was worked more than another.
Roxburgh then goes on to discuss the works of Bihzad in order to provide another reason why analyzing works based on similarities in style is problematic. Bihzad’s work demonstrates variety in style and technique as some works contain characteristics similar to Chinese pieces, while others show characteristics typically seen in Persian artwork. Many of Bihzad’s single sheet paintings were created with a different drawing or coloring technique. These single sheet paintings often varied in terms of completion, which allowed historians to see the processes involved in making the works. In some pieces Bihzad was more focused on line quality and in other pieces color was his main focus, suggesting there wasn’t one process that Bizhad followed every time.