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Mirror case

Mirror case

  • Place of origin:

    Isfahan, Iran (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1850-1875 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel hinged mirror case with inlaid gold border

  • Museum number:

    504-1874

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This mirror case has an enclosed portrait of Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. It is painted in the new, more realistic style that was often used for imaginary portraits of religious figures in the reign of Nasir al-Din Shah (ruled 1848–1896).

He was a member of the Qajar dynasty and also a great patron of portraiture. In his time, Iranian artists trained in Europe, where the Shah travelled on several occasions.

The Qajar dynasty reunited Iran in the 1790s and ruled until 1925. At the beginning of their reign, Iran had been isolated for many years. Soon contact with the outside world was re-established, and over time Qajar art began to reflect developments elsewhere, such as the use of photography by painters.

Physical description

Steel, oblong and hinged mirror case with inlaid gold border. Interior encloses a looking glass and miniature painting depicting a seated 'Ali.

Place of Origin

Isfahan, Iran (probably, made)

Date

1850-1875 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Steel hinged mirror case with inlaid gold border

Dimensions

Length: 26.2 cm, Height: 17.1 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm

Object history note

This object was purchased in Tehran in 1873, by Robert Murdoch Smith on behalf of the Museum. For 1,555 Krans (or £65), Murdoch Smith had bought "a considerable collection" of metalwork, ceramics and textiles from Baron Julius de Reuter (1816-1899), a British industrialist responsible for introducing a strategic telegraph line across Iran ten years previously.

Descriptive line

Steel mirror case with a portrait of Ali, Iran (probably Isfahan), 1850-75.

Labels and date

Mirror Case with Portrait of Ali
Iran, probably Isfahan
1850-75

Nasir al-Din Shah (reigned 1848-96) was also a great patron of portraiture. In his time, Iranian artists trained in Europe, where the Shah travelled on several occasions. A new, more realistic style of painting developed and was often used for imaginary portraits of religious figures. This example shows Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

Steel and gold; paint and gold on paper; glass. Painting signed by Ja'far son of Najaf Ali.

Museum no. 504-1874 [Jameel Gallery]

Materials

Gold; Steel

Techniques

Painting; Casting; Inlay

Subjects depicted

Mirror glass; Pocket-mirrors

Categories

Islam; Personal accessories; Metalwork; Fashion; Accessories

Collection code

MES

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Qr_O108842
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