Photo of Gulru Necipoglu

Gülru Necipoğlu

Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Art

Director of the Aga Khan Program of Islamic Architecture



Gülru Necipoğlu has been the Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture since 1993 at Harvard University’s History of Art and Architecture Department, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1986. She specializes in the arts and architecture of the pre-modern Islamic lands, with a focus on the Mediterranean. She is interested in questions of aesthetic cosmopolitanism, transregional connectivities between early modern Islamicate empires (Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal), and cross-cultural artistic exchanges with Byzantium and Renaissance Europe. Her studies have also addressed pre-modern architectural practice, plans and drawings, the aesthetics of abstract ornament and geometric design. Her critical interests encompass methodological and historiographical issues in modern constructions of the field of Islamic art.

Professor Necipoğlu edits the journal Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World (Brill) and her books include: Architecture, Ceremonial and Power: The Topkapı Palace (1991); The Topkapı Scroll–Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture (1995); The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire (2005, 2011). She recently edited the following volumes: The Arts of Ornamental Geometry: A Persian Compendium on Similar and Complementary Interlocking Figures (2017); A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, in the Wiley-Blackwell Companions to Art History (coeditor F. Barry Flood, 2017); and Histories of Ornament: From Global to Local (coeditor Alina Payne, 2016).

Professor Necipoğlu is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Archittettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza.


PhD. Dissertations advised by Prof. Necipoğlu:

  • F. Emami, “The New Isfahan: City Experience in the Safavid Capital, 1590-1722,” Ph.D. 2017
  • M. Taner, “‘Between the Persians and the Rum, what woe befell us:’ Painting in Baghdad in the Late 16th- early 17th Century,” Ph.D. 2016
  • D. Türker, “Ottoman Victoriana: Nineteenth-Century Sultans and the Making of a Palace, 1836-1909,” Ph.D. 2016
  • A. Botchkareva, "Representational Naturalism in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Changing Visual Cultures in Mughal India and Safavid Iran, 1580-1730," Ph.D. 2014
  • Y. Al-Saleh, "'Licit Magic': The Touch and Sight of Islamic Talismanic Scrolls," Ph.D. 2014
  • U. Rustem, "Architecture for a New Age: Imperial Ottoman Mosques in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul," Ph.D. 2013
  • S. Yalman, “Religion, Urbanism and Identity in the Architectural Patronage of Sultan ‘Ala al-Din Kayqubad (r.1220-1237),” Ph.D. 2010
  • J. Pruitt, “Fatimid Architectural Patronage and Changing Sectarian Identities (969-1021),” Ph.D. 2009
  • C. Dadlani, “Twilight of the Mughals? Architecture and Aesthetics in the Late Mughal Empire,” Ph.D. 2009
  • L. Akbarnia, “Beauty in the Beast: the transmission of chinoiserie from China to Iran and the creation of artistic ideals and cultural memory under the Mongol patrons,” Ph.D. 2007
  • S. Wolf, “The Construction of Ottoman Aleppo: Modes and Meanings of Urban (Re-) Organization,” Ph.D. 2005
  • E. Fetvacı, “Viziers to Eunuchs: Transitions in Ottoman Manuscript Patronage, 1566–1617,” Ph.D. 2005
  • Z. Yürekli Görkay, “Bektashi Architecture and the Turcoman Forces in Classical Ottoman Society,” Ph.D. 2005
  • P. Berlekamp, “Wonder and Its Images in Late Medieval Islamic Culture: The Wonders of Creation from the Euphrates to the Oxus, 1258–1502,” Ph.D. June 2003
  • M. Farhat, “Displaying Piety: The Shrine of Imam Ali al-Rida in Mashhad under the Safavids,” Ph.D. December 2002
  • B. Wood, “Shah Isma'il in Myth and Memory,” Ph.D. June 2002
  • O. Pancaroğlu, “A World Unto Himself: Human Images in the Late Seljuk Period (1150–1250),” Ph.D. June 2000
  • A. Ersoy, “On the Sources of the Ottoman Renaissance: Architectural Revivalism and its Discourse in the Abdulaziz Era (1861–76),” Ph.D. June 2000
  • C. Kafescioğlu, “The Ottoman Capital in the Making: The Reconstruction of Constantinople in the Fifteenth Century,” Ph.D. November 1996
  • E.D. Hermann, “Urban Formation and Landscape: Symbol and Agent of Social, Political, and Environmental Change in Fourteenth-Century Nasrid Granada,” Ph.D. June 1996
  • G. Bailey, “Jesuit Missionaries in India and Their Impact on Mughal Visual Culture,” Ph.D. June 1996


Brill's Author In Focus

Brill announced that Professor Necipoğlu is the Middle East and Islamic Studies Author In Focus (November 2011)