Biographical Sketch

Yael Rice (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) specializes in the art and architecture of South Asia and Greater Iran, with a particular focus on manuscripts and other portable arts of the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. Between 2009-12, she held the position of Assistant Curator of Indian and Himalayan Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and in that capacity curated exhibitions of court portraits from South Asia, ragamala paintings, and works by Rabindranath Tagore and other seminal Bengali artists of the early twentieth century. Rice is also the 2015-16 Editor of H-Islamart, a web list sponsored by the Historians of Islamic Art Association (HIAA), and serves on the board of the American Council of Southern Asian Art (ACSAA).

Rice's current research concerns physiognomic analysis as a courtly and artistic practice, Mughal depictions of imperial dreams, paintings made for the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707), and material and object encounters across the globe during the early modern period, the latter an interdisciplinary collaboration. She is also in the process of preparing a monograph entitled The Emperor’s Eye and the Painter’s Brush: Artists and Agency at the Mughal Court, based on her 2011 dissertation; and is co-editing an e-publication on the “life” of a Qur’an manuscript copied in Iran in the twelfth century. Her previous publications include studies of European engravings and Persian calligraphic specimens in Mughal royal albums, the 1598–99 Mughal Razmnama (Book of war), and an early fifteenth-century Khamsa (Quintet) of Nizami copied and illustrated in the region of Fars, Iran. Rice’s work has been supported by a Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Islamic Art (2012-13), a Rare Book School Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography (2013-15), a Samuel H. Kress Foundation Travel Fellowship (2006), an SSRC International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2006-7), a Sotheby's Junior Curatorial Enrichment Grant (2011), and Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowships (2003 & 2005).

Among other approaches, Rice is interested in the potential that computational methods and digital tools hold for the study of art histroy. To that end, she recently (July 2015) participated in Beyond the Digitized Slide Library, a digital art history institute at UCLA supported by the Getty Foundation, where she acquired facility with data structuring, metadata standardization, and network diagramming. She regularly incorporates digital art history assignments into her course curricula and welcomes students who are interested in exploring these avenues. 


Since her work straddles the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent, Rice offers two survey courses, one on the visual culture of the Islamic world, the other on the art and architecture of South Asia (India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Myanmar). She also teaches intermediate courses on the art and architecture of the Mughal empire, artistic exchange and encounter during the early modern period (1400-1800), and book arts of the Islamic world; and offers seminars on the art of the talisman and on the practice and theory of art history.