Calligraphy with Box and Glasses

  • Richard de Menocal, Calligraphy with Box and Glasses, 1982, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation, 1985.30.14

Richard de Menocal’s Calligraphy with Box and Glasses is an elegant, quietly poetic painting. The artist copied the Arabic script after a famous work by the mid-sixteenth-century Turkish calligrapher Ahmed Karahisari. It reads, In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” This is the first line of every chapter in the Koran, the holy text of Islam, and many Muslims recite this prayer at the start of any new endeavor. Arabic is written and read from right to left, and Menocal placed the full glass at the opening of the prayer and the empty glass to the left, toward the end. The circular box elevates one glass above the other, creating a gentle curve that imitates the graceful sweep of the calligraphy. Menocal spent several years in meditation communities, and his painting suggests a process of emptying the mind in order to receive spiritual enlightenment.

Calligraphy with Box and Glasses
1728 18 in. (43.271.4 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Still life – other – container
  • Still life – written matter
  • Still life – other – dish
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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