Another Qajar Qalamdan

Lacquer Pen box
Qajar period, Persia
Date: 19th century.
Length: 23.5 cm.
Sold at Sotheby's auction.
Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]
قلمدان دوره قاجار با نقشهای مسیحی‌ و اروپایی - حراجی ساتبی
Images on pen cases are among the most creative forms of Qajar art, which have been greatly ignored to this day. They usually covered variety of story lines. This one has biblical themes flavored in a European court. Click on the image to see a larger version.

According to Sotheby's website, this is a lacquered papier-mache box with rounded ends and sliding tray, decorated with cartouches depicting scenes from the Bible, between ornate oval frames featuring male and female portraits, the base with gold foliate scrolls, grapes and birds against a black ground, the inner sides with floral scrolls against a red ground, signed and dated to central panel.

British Six Pounder Gun

Dynasty: Qajar Period, Persia
Made by East Indian Company, India.
Date: early 19th century
Kept in Russia
Source: [1]

These two cannons are worth seeing. They are brass field 6-pounders produced by the Bengal East Indian Company (Fort William at Calcutta) in 1806. There is no marks of the British Army property. The pieces are beautiful and rich in decoration. There is a horse head on the chase; a flag with the Lion and Sun around the muzzle; Another Lion and Sun motif can be seen in the lower side of each cannon.
توپ‌های جنگی ارتش ایران تولید کمپانی هند شرقی‌ با نشان شیر و خورشید - دوره قاجار - محل نگهداری : روسیه
In the middle part between the trunnions there is a long spiral inscription in Persian (second gun). The inscription is glorifying Fath-Ali shah Qajar. "The Sultan, Sultan's son, of Sultan's son  and the Khagan [King in Turkish], Khagan's son, of Khagan's son. Hero of the sea and land, God's shadow on the Earth, Shah-an-Shah ….  Stronghold of the Most High, valiant winner Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. May god perpetuate His power and spread all over the world His grace and good."

There is one more inscription in Persian above the base ring which is not clear. The cannons are built in the year 1221 of the Islamic calendar (1806). These cannons might have been presented to Fath-Ali Shah in the early 1800s when Britain signed a military agreement with Persia and helped the Shah with military experts and ordnance. Most likely they were captured in 1812 in the battle at Aslanduz [2] when the Russian Army under General Pyotr Kotlyarevsky [3] defeated the Persian Army under Abbas Mirza, son and heir of Fath-Ali. Vasily Potto (Russian General and historian) writes: "By the Aslanduz victory, Russians captured eleven English casting cannons with the inscription: 'From the King of Kings – to the Shah of Shahs". Peter Hopkirk also mentions about a dozen of fourteen invaluable Lindsay's guns captured by Cotlyarevsky which were claimed by the Russians as bearing the inscription: 'To the Shah of Shahs from the King of Kings' (Peter Hopkirk The Great Game: the Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, 1990).

It's worth saying that at that time Russia and Britain were allies against Napoleon. That's why British experts in the Persian Army were ordered in case of combat actions to leave immediately their formations to avoid any political confrontation with Russia. However, the storm of the Cotlyarevsky's Army was so violent that the two British experts Lieutenant Lindsay [4] (artillery) and Captain Cristy (infantry) preferred to ignore the command in order not to look like cowards taking their heels from the battlefield. All the day long they desperately tried to gather Persians and repelled Russian attacks. Captain Cristy was killed in this fight. Lieutenant Lindsay survived, later was promoted to the rank of Major-General.

Portrait of a Prince

Qajar Period, Persia.
Date: ca. 1840
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Overall: 91.4 x 81.3 cm
Courtesy of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Hawaii, USA
Source: [1]
نقاشی یک شاهزاده - دوران قاجار - موزه شنگری لا - هاوایی - آمریکا
I found this cute looking prince on  Doris Duke Foundation's website. What I am guessing is that he is an imaginary portrait of ancient king dressed as a Qajar Prince!  Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art is located in Hawaii and has some interesting Persian stuff. I highly recommend it. 

Woman Playing a Setar

Era: Qajar period, Iran
Date: circa 1830
Dimensions: overall: 172.1 x 83.8 cm
Medium: oil on canvas
Kept in Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Hawaii, USA
Sources: [1],[2]
زن نوازنده قاجاری با بالا تنه بدن نما - بنیاد هنر اسلامی دوریس دوک در شانگری لا، هاوایی، آمریکا
This 19th century painting depicts a young female musician playing setar and dressed in a see through shirt. Setar originated in Persia before the spread of Islam, and it is a member of the lute family, which is played with index finger of the right hand.

According to the Foundation, beautiful young female musicians, dancers, and acrobats were a favorite subject of erotic oil paintings created during the reign of Fath Ali Shah and his grand son Mohammad Shah Qajar. Such paintings were hung in the private rooms of the king's palaces, not in public reception rooms.

To learn more about Doris Duke Foundation click here: [3] - in Persian

Young Couple

Qajar or Pahlavi Era, Iran
20th century
Materials and technique: oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 20 x 20 cm
Collections of Olga Davidson
Source: [1]
نقاشی زوج جوان - کلکسیون اولگا دیویدسون
This painting depicts a couple. The digital archive (Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran) at Harvard University does not provide any in depth information about this painting. The man's turban is similar to that of Zand period. My assumption is that this work was created in early Pahlavi era. One interesting observation about the female figure is that she doesn't have a unibrow like traditional Qajar paintings!

Safavid Jacket in Stockholm

Safavid Period, Persia
Date: 16th century
Material: velvet on gold-brocade ground
Dimensions: Length: 123 cm.
Kept in Royal Armory Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
Sources: [1],[2],[3],[4]
 لباس مخملی دوره صفوی - موزه قورخانه (اسلحه‌خانه) استکهلم سوئد
I came across this when I was reading about history of clothing in the Safavid and Qajar periods in Encyclopædia Iranica. After few days, I was able to locate this garment online in Royal Armory Museum in Stockholm. According to Museum, the previous owners of this coat were Tsar Michael I of Russia and Christina, Queen of Sweden. But, how did it end up in Sweden at the first place?

According to Encyclopædia Iranica, this garment may have been included in the rich gifts sent by Shah Ṣafī to the Russian court in the 1630s. It is a short, fitted coat (nīm-tana) fastened at the side and ornamented with human designs in velvet on a ground of gilded silver brocade; it was presented by Tsar  Michael I to Queen Christina of Sweden in 1644 and is now in the Royal Armory in Stockholm, Sweden. 

A Large Qajar Lacquer Papier Mache Box

Qajar Period, Persia
Date: 19th century
Sold at Bonhams auctions
Source: [1]
جعبه چوبی قاجاری - حراجی بونامز
This is a remarkably beautiful example of Wooden containers in Qajar Period. It does depict fictitious scenes of royal battles or hunting. In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or colored wood finish that dries by solvent evaporation.

Woman Holding a Cup and a Decanter

Miniature Painting
Safavid Period, Persia
Origin: Iran, 1681
Materials and technique: gouache
Artist: Ali Naqi
Size:  14.8 x 8.9 cm
Kept in Hermitage Museum, Russia.
Sources: [1], [2]

This work is attributed to Ali Naqi. There is not much information about him on the internet. If I find something, I will fix this post. 

Crown Prince Naser al-Din Mirza

Qajar period, Persia
Date: late 19th century
Materials and technique: oil on canvas.
Size: 110 x 83 cm.
Kept in Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran.
Sources: [1],[2],[3]
ناصرالدین میرزای ولیعهد - اثر کمال الملک
This is a funny looking portrait of the Crown Prince Naser al-Din Mirza, who became one of the long serving rulers of Iran. He nearly ruled Iran for 50 years. The creator of this work is Kamal-ol-molk. Based on Kamal-ol-molk's age, this work has been created after the prince was already a king, and is perhaps based on the previous work of some other painter.

One Thousand and One Nights

Painting & illustration
Qajar Period, Persia
Date: mid 19th century.
Possibly kept in Tehran, Iran.
Sources: [1], [2], [3],[4],[5]
هزار و یک شب اثر ابوالحسن غفاری صنیع الملک
This illustration has been either created by Sani' al-Molk or under his supervision. The stories are taken from the old stories of Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights but with a contemporary flavor of that period. Mirza Abol-Hassan Khan Ghaffari Kashani, also known as Abol-Hassan II and Sani-al-Mulk, is considered the first teacher of European style of painting in Iran. He lived from 1813 to 1866. Sani' al-Molk and his nephew Kamal al-Molk [6] were the leading painters of Qajar Period. There is another member of Ghaffari clan who was also a painter and lived in Zand Period. To see Abol-Hassan I's paintings click here: [7], [8]

Karim Khan Zand on Horseback

Zand Period, Persia.
Date: late 18th century.
Materials and technique: gouache heightened with gold on paper.
Size: 28.2 cm x 23 cm.
Sold at Sotheby's auction.
Source: [1]
تصویر کریم خان زند سوار بر اسب - حراجی ساتبی
Again, this work is attributed to Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari Mostafawi Kashani who was the great uncle of another famous painter called Sani' al-Molk. [2] This painting depicts Karim Khan Zand holding a bow in his right hand while riding a horse. Based on this painting, my assumption is that the Zand ruler was left handed. Also, it is interesting that the bow and arrow were still used in Persia in the late 18th century. To learn more about the art of Zand Era click here. [3]

Karim Khan Zand With His Horse

Painting & illustration
Zand Period, Persia.
Date: 1794.
Materials and technique: gouache heightened with gold on paper.
Size: 20.3 cm x 29 cm.
Sold at Christie's auction.
Source: [1]
تصویر کریم خان زند و اسبش - حراجی کریستی
This is another rare sample of art work in Zand Era, which shows the Persian monarch Karim Khan Zand wearing a turban and jewelled aigrette pictured in Isfahan in front of Ali Qapu Palace. He ruled Iran from 1750 to 1779 and is considered to be among the most generous Persian kings. He never styled himself as king. Instead, he used the title Vakil e-Ra'aayaa (Representative of the People). A young groom is also seen in the illustration washing the tail of a grey horse.  There is also one strange thing about this painting. It is mentioned that it was inscribed in the hand of Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari. After much research I realized that they are two Persian artists named Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari, who were related as matter of fact. [2] The younger and more famous one who is called Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari II or titled Sani’ al-Molk lived in Qajar period. He was a great nephew of the older painter. This painting was apparently created by the older Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari. [3]

Six Pages of Persian Erotica

Qajar Era, Persia
Date: 19th cenury
Size: 10 X 7 inches (largest)
Sold on Live Auctioneers
Source: [1]

These six pages are another examples of erotic art in Qajar period. They are visibly influenced by Indian Kama Sutra illustrations.

The Ambassador Husain Ali Beig

Date: early 17th century
Source: [1]
تصویر حسینعلی بیگ - سفیر صفوی در اروپا
According to Wikipedia, this is a portrait of the ambassador Husain Ali Beig who was sent by Shah Abbas I of Safavid dynasty to ask for the European assistance in the war against Ottomans.

Cuchein Ollibeag

Copper engraving
Date: early 17th century
Sources: [1],[2]
تصویر حسینعلی بیگ - یکی‌ از فرستادگان صفوی به اروپا
This is a portrait of Hossein Ali Beig (written as Cuchein Ollibeag in the engraved work) who was one of the Persian envoys sent to Europe by the Safavids. Here he is seen at the court of the Holly Roman Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. If his name is written correctly in the portrait, he is then the ambassador himself. However I am not too convinced that this portrait belongs to the ambassador as he looks different in another portrait. [3] The text in Persian does not mention any ambassadorial status either. 

Mechti Kuli Beg

Date: 17th century
Size: 15.5 x 10.7 cm
Sold at Christie's auction.
Sources: [1], [2]
تصویر مهدی قلی بیگ یکی‌ از فرستادگان صفوی به اروپا
This portrait was created at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, which is another portrait of Mehdi Qoli Beig who was a member of the the Persian embassy to Europe (1599–1602).
They were dispatched by Shah Abbas I in 1599 to obtain an alliance against the Ottoman Empire. The Persians had then been at war with the Ottoman Empire for more than a century, so they decided to try to obtain European help against the Ottomans. You can also click on this link [3] to see his other portrait, which is very similar.

In a twist, few members of the embassy abjured the Muslim faith and adopted Catholicism instead. Already three members of the Persian retinue had done so in Rome. Then three of the ambassador's secretaries did so while in Spain, including Mehdi Quli Beg, who received Philip III as Godfather, and adopted his name to become Don Philip of Persia!

Zeynal Khan Shamlou

copper engraving
Date: 1604
Size: 23.6 cm x 15.4 cm
Sources: [1],[2],[3]
تصویر زینل خان شاملو - یکی‌ از فرستادگان صفوی به اروپا
Zeynal Beig Shamlou was a notable nobleman in Safavid Era. It seems he served as a military commander for both Shah Abbas I and Shah Safi. This portrait of him was possibly created when he traveled with Mehdi Qoli Beig to Europe. This work (titled Synal Chaen, persischer Botschafter in Prag) seems to be engraved in copper, and the artist is perhaps Aegidius Sadeler who was a famous painter and engraver and a member of the famous Sadeler family. [4]

Painting of a Qajar Lady in Outside Dress

Qajar Period, Persia
Circa 1850
Materials and technique: oil on canvas
Size: 148 x 87 cm
Kept in the State Museums of Berlin, Prussian Cultural Heritage, Museum of Ethnology (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)
Source: [1]
نقاشی زن قاجاری با چادر - موزه برلین
This is possibly an image of the wife of the Shah of Persia or another Noblewoman. This woman has a ventilated curtain. Persian women wore a different veil in the 19th Century. The body was concealed with the black, gold-embroidered fabric here called chadoor, while a graceful white veil (picheh) covered her face. In this painting, the young woman at the moment has lifted both veils and so the viewer is allowed to see her beautiful appearance. Due to the very precious materials for the long dress and jacket on the transparent blouse the woman seems to have a high ranking status in the court. The painting was acquired by Heinrich Petermann in 1854 in Persia.

Monir al-Saltaneh

Qajar Period, Persia
Source: [1]
عکس منیرالسلطنه در دربار ناصری
The lady in the right hand side, is Monir al-Saltaneh who was one of Naser al-adin Shah's wives. She was the daughter of the architect to the crown. Naser al-adin Shah's favorite son Prince Kamran Mirza was her son as well; as a result, she became an influential woman in the Qajar court.