Askar Khan Afshar, The Qajar Ambassador To France

Painting
French Revolution Era or Napoleonic Period
Style and Technique: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 67 × 52. in.
Kept in Musee national des chateaux de Versailles et de Trianon in France
Sources: [1],[2],[3],[4]
نقاشی اصغر خان افشار، سفیر ایران در فرانسه - اثر مادام داوین - دوره ناپلئون بناپارت
This painting displays the talent of a female artist of the French Revolution Era. Her name is Césarine Henriette Flore Davin-Mirvault, a French painter of portraits and miniatures. According to Wikipedia, She was born in Paris in 1773. She studied under the master painters such as Joseph-Benoît Suvée [5], Jacques-Louis David [6], and Jean-Baptiste Jacques Augustin [7]. Afterwards, she had a modest success and was able to establish her own school of drawing and painting, in which she had many pupils and students. Madame Davin died in Paris in 1844.

The subject of this painting, is Askar Khan Afshar, the Persian ambassador who was sent by Fath Ali Shah Qajar [8] to Paris, during the period of the Franco-Persian alliance. According to Wikipedia, he arrived in Paris on 20 July 1808 and was able to meet Napoleon Bonaparte [9] on 4 September 1808 at Château de Saint-Cloud palace [10]. In this painting, the ambassador is seated holding a Misbaha which is a string of prayer beads which is still traditionally used by Muslims to keep track of counting of their prayers. The painter has managed to beautifully capture the details of the ambassador's face and outfit.

The Franco-Iranian alliance [11] was formed for a short period between Napoleon I and Fath Ali Shah Qajar against Russia and Great Britain between 1807 to 1809. The alliance was part of the Napoleonic plan to cross the Middle East in order to attack British India. The alliance was broken when France finally allied with Russia. This had devastation effect on Persia as Russians managed to occupy important territories in Caucasus.