Anthony Welch

Ph.D. Harvard University
Islamic Art and Architecture, Iranian Painting, Architecture of Muslim India

Areas of Research

  • Islamic art and architecture
  • Iranian painting
  • Safavi art and architecture
  • Architecture of Delhi Sultanate
  • Mughal Art and architecture


  • HA 351A - Painting in Medieval Islam
  • HA 351B - Painting in Iran
  • HA 357 - Arts of Mediterranean Islam, 13th - 20th Centuries
  • HA 358 - Islam and Asia
  • HA 359 - Islamic Arts from the Mongol Conquests to the Dawn of the Modern Period
  • HA 451/552 - Adv. Sem. in the Arts of Mughal India:  Arts of Mughal India c. 1526-1707
  • HA 453/553 - Adv. Sem. in the Arts of Safavi Iran:  16th & 17th C Art & Architecture in Iran

Brief Biography

Anthony Welch received his Honours B.A. in German literature from Swarthmore College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the history of Islamic art and architecture. He is the author of numerous articles in scholarly journals and a number of books on Islamic art, including Shah 'Abbas and the Arts of Isfahan, Asia Society, New York, 1973; Artists for the Shah, Late Sixteenth Century Painting at the Imperial Court of Iran, Yale University Press, 1976; The Collection of Islamic Art, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, 4 vols., Geneva, 1972 & 1978; Calligraphy in the Arts of the Muslim World, University of Texas Press, 1979; and Arts of the Islamic Book (co-authored with S.C. Welch), Cornell University Press, 1982. He has recently edited and annotated one of the major Venetian travel accounts of the seventeenth century, The Travels and Journal of Ambrosio Bembo, University of California Press, 2007. Bembo traveled in the Middle East, Iran, and India between 1671-75, and his book is richly illustrated with contemporary drawings. Welch is currently preparing a monograph on the architectural patronage of the 14th century Tughluq sultans of Delhi. With Prof. Martin Segger he received a three-year (1999-2002) grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to study the career of R.R. Bayne, a British-trained architect who was active in India in the second half of the 19th century. He has received research funding from the University of Victoria, the Smithsonian Institution, the Shastri-Indo Canadian Institute, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has presented papers at many academic conferences and has given invited lectures at universities and museums in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Dr. Welch came to the University of Victoria in 1971 as a lecturer in the Department of Art History & Visual Studies and served as assistant professor from 1972-75 and associate professor from 1975-1980. He was appointed professor in 1980. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, the University of Washington, and the University of Minnesota, and has been a visiting curator at the Asia Society in New York on three occasions.

He served as Associate Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Victoria from 1982-85 and was appointed Dean in 1985, a post which he held until July, 1998. Among his special administrative interests in this position were the development of computer-assisted research and teaching programs in the Fine Arts, the establishment of collaborative enterprises with other areas of the university such as Engineering and Business, and the expansion of academic and cultural exchange programs with Pacific Rim nations. For ten years he was on the Board of Directors of the Innovation and Development Corporation, a company that assists university and other researchers in commercial development of applicable research. In addition, from 1994-99 he served as a member of the Board of Directors and vice-president of the McPherson Foundation which operates the two principal public arts facilities in Victoria. He has had a long interest in the social and economic impact of the arts, and in 1988 co-authored a report -- The Business of the Arts -- that assessed the impact of the arts in Victoria, B.C. He subsequently served on the Arts Policy committee of the city of Victoria and was awarded a 125th Anniversary Silver Medal by the government of Canada for his part in developing a new relationship between government, business, and the arts in Victoria.

In January, 1998, he was appointed as the first Executive Director, Office of International Affairs, at the University of Victoria. In this position he was responsible for expanding the university's global teaching and research links, for increasing international content in the university's curriculum, for maintaining and enhancing academic agreements with universities and other educational institutions around the world, and for seeking international funding for the University of Victoria. Dr. Welch returned to full-time teaching and research in 2007.

Selected Professional Achievements


The University of Alberta, September, 2000: "Two Mughal Tombs."
Meiji University, Tokyo, November, 2000: "Canada and Internationalism."
"Canada and its cultural policy."


UNESCO conference on the University in the 21st Century, Muscat, Oman:
"The Shift from Teaching to Learning."


Aga Khan University, Karachi:
"Seventeenth-Century Iran Seen through Venetian Eyes”."
University of British Columbia: “Islam and the Ways of the Word”
Invited inaugural lecture for Spirit of Islam exhibition, Museum of Anthropology.


University of British Columbia: “Scripture in Stone: Quranic Inscriptions in the
early Delhi Sultanate ”
Lecture for Spirit of Islam exhibition, Museum of Anthropology.


American University in Sharjah, UAE “Calligraphy in Islamic Culture”
Meiji University, Tokyo: “Ibn Khaldun and international education”
“The Career of R. R. Bayne, British architect in India”
Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo: “Two Early Mughal Tombs”


Phillips University, Marburg, Germany: invited series of four lectures on Islamic art and architecture
Der Schmerz des Kaisers: zwei Grabmäler der Mughulzeit
Architecture, Patronage, and Epigraphy in the sultanate of Delhi
Die Reisen in Indien und Iran von Ambrosio Bembo aus Venedig
Architect for the British Raj in India: the career of Richard Roskell Bayne


International Symposium ISAM (INSTITUTE FOR ISLAMIC STUDIES), Istanbul (24-26 November 2006): Islamic-Turkish Civilization and Europe, 11th-18th centuries
Ambrosio Bembo’s Travels through the Ottoman Empire


Ohio State University (May 18-19 2007)
The Emperor’s Grief: two Mughal tombs in Delhi


University of Victoria, Islamic Art Study Day: Two Mughal Tombs
University of Victoria, Symposium: the Architecture of R.R. Bayne in India
York University, invited lecture: Ambrosio Bembo in India
Noor Foundation, Toronto: Two Mughal Tombs
Simon Fraser University: Two Mughal Tombs


Panel participant and speaker (1 of 4) at Sotheby’s, New York, 20 March
Speaker at international conference on Muslim Piety, U. of Alberta, April 30
External assessor for SSHRC, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, Getty Museum, France- Canada Research Foundation.
External assessor for Community-University Research Alliance, SSHRC
Participant in nine separate adjudication between 1999-2010,

Selected Publications


Shah Abbas and the The Arts of Isfahan. Asia Society Inc., N.Y. (translated in Persian, Tehran, 2009)

The Travels and Journal of Ambrosio Bembo, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2007, 451 pages. I edited, annotated (approximately 650 footnotes and a substantial introduction), and wrote a substantial introduction for this first English-language publication of this major text on 17th century Iran.



“Epigraphs, Scripture, and Architecture in the Early Delhi Sultanate,” (abridged reprint co-authored with H. Keshani & A. Bain) in: F. B. Flood (ed.), Piety and Politics in the Early Indian Mosque, Oxford University Press., 2008: 179-221


“Building for the Raj, Richard Roskell Bayne,” (co-authored with Martin Segger and Nicholas DeCaro), RACAR (Revue d’art canadienne/Canadian Art Review), vol. XXXIV, Number 2, 2009, 74-86.

“The Emperor’s Grief: Two Mughal Tombs,” Festschrift for Oleg Grabar on his 80th birthday, Muqarnas, an Annual on the Visual Culture of the Islamic World, the Aga Khan Program at Harvard and M.I.T., Leiden, E. J. Brill, vol. 25 (2008): 255-273

“Ambrosio Bembo’s Travels through the Ottoman Empire,” volume on Islamic-Turkish Civilization, ISAM Center for Islamic Studies, Istanbul, 2009


Ambrosio Bembo, article for Encyclopedia Iranica, Columbia University Press, New York, 2009.