Layla and Majnun

Period: Zand or Qajar, Iran
Date: late 18th–second quarter 19th century
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 36.5 in. high 33.75 in. wide (90.8 cm high 85.7 cm wide)
Kept in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Sources: [1],[2], [3]
نگاره‌ای از لیلی و مجنون - دوره زند یا قاجار - موزه متروپولیتن نیویورک
This month was so eventful to the extent that I have decided to post a romance related painting to honor what I experienced. I am not too sure, but this painting is either made during Zand or Qajar Dynasty. There are similarities between this work and four other works of Zand period that are kept in Brooklyn Museum: [3],[4], [5], [6]. This painting tells the story of Layla and Majnun, which is a love story from the Middle East, later adopted and popularized by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. It is the third of his five long narrative poems. It is a tragic story of undying love much like the later Romeo and Juliet.

The Zandiyeh (Zand) dynasty was a dynasty led by Karim Khan Zand that ruled southern and central Iran. The beginning of Zand era was of relative peace and economic growth for the country. Some territories that were once captured by the Ottomans in the late Safavid era were retaken, and Iran was once again a coherent and prosperous country. The art of this era is remarkable and, despite the short length of the dynasty, a distinct Zand art had the time to emerge. Many Qajar artistic traits were copied from the Zand examples. Sadly, after the death of the first Zand ruler, the kingdom became unstable until Qajars brought to an end a long period of political instability after collapse of Safavids, reuniting Iranian territory after the disunity and warfare that characterized much of the eighteenth century. This period witnessed a transition from tribal to centralized rule. Iran became entangled in a web of superpower rivalry (between Britain and Russia) and suffered significant losses in the Caucasus. This prompted a program of modernization that resulted in an unprecedented influx of military, technological, and educational innovations from Europe. Artistic innovations in visual arts also followed based on earlier Zand art forms.