Paul Mak (Pavel Petrovich Ivanov)
(Russian, 1891-1967)
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Russian-born Pavel Petrovich Ivanov (who later changed his name to Paul Mak) is best known for his fantastical style and Middle-Eastern themes. Born to a noble Russian military family, Mak studied art at K. Iuon's studio in Moscow and illustrated for Moscow and St. Petersburg journals including Satirikon before enrolling at the Kiev Military Academy following the outbreak of World War I. He was wounded during action but by the end of the war had been promoted to the rank of Captain and served in the 89th Belomorskii Infantry Regiment. Imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in Butyrskii following the October revolution, Mak was swiftly rehabilitated and by 1920 was working as an artist for the Theatre of Revolutionary Satire in Moscow.

 

Mak's emigration in 1922 heralded the most exciting and creative period in his artistic career. Crossing Turkestan and Afghanistan, Mak settled in Persia, modern-day Iran, initially working as a racehorse trainer before an introduction to the Reza Shah led to his appointment as official court artist. During this period, Mak was devoted to the study of the Persian miniature, renowned for its exquisite detail and intricacy. He sought inspiration from the exoticism of Eastern tales and history and lent his stylized line to figures such as Salome, Tamberlane, and Chingis Khan. Perhaps the most fertile source for his miniatures was 'The Thousand and One Nights', a collection of tales that originated in India, Persia and Arabia.