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Oil painting - Portrait of Fath 'Ali Shah

Portrait of Fath 'Ali Shah

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)
    Tehran, Iran (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1797-1834 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Abdullah Khan (attributed to, artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on calico

  • Museum number:

    707-1876

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, room 42, case WW6, shelf EXP

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Painting in oils was introduced into Iran after 1600, when the country had strong commercial links with Europe. The technique seems to have continued in use during the troubled period that followed the Afghan invasion in 1722. It burst back into life under the Qajar dynasty, who re-united Iran in the 1780s and 1790s. The first great patron was the second ruler of the dynasty, Fath 'Ali Shah (reigned 1797-1834), who had numerous pictures of himself made for his own palaces and as diplomatic gifts. The founder of the dynasty, his uncle Agha Muhammad Shah, had been castrated as a child by his father's enemies and was considered repulsively ugly. Fath 'Ali Shah therefore had himself portrayed as a virile, youthful man, with a slim waist and a magnificent beard.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)
Tehran, Iran (probably, made)

Date

1797-1834 (made)

Artist/maker

Abdullah Khan (attributed to, artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on calico

Dimensions

Height: 233.9 cm, Width: 118.4 cm

Object history note

When the painting was purchased, it was described as being, "From the Shah's palace at Tehran."

NOTE: This painting was not shown at the first venue of the Palace and Mosque exhibition (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).

Historical context note

"When a new dynasty, the Qajars, emerged at the end of the eighteenth century, portraits in oils began to assume a highly political function. The founder of the dynasty, Agha Muhammad (died 1797), had been castrated as youth by his father’s enemies, and his successor, Fath ‘Ali Shah (ruled 1797-1834), was keen to emphasize his masculinity. As a way of doing this, he commissioned numerous portraits of himself that showed him as slim-waisted, youthful and heavily bearded ... Some were sent abroad as diplomatic gifts, and many were placed in his palaces, where they were flanked by paintings showing either an enormous entourage, including many of his sons and grandsons, or harem women engaged in the entertainment of their lord ..."
Tim Stanley, Palace and Mosque, p.72

Descriptive line

Full-length portrait of the Qajar ruler Fath 'Ali Shah by 'Abdallah Khan. Iran, probably Tehran, 1797-1834.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Tim Stanley, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004, p. 72, plate 87. Illustrated in 'Iranian Textiles' by Jennifer Wearden and Patricia L Baker, V&A Publishing 2010, fig. 6 page 17.
Persian Royal Portraiture and the Qajars, Robinson, B.W., Qajar Iran, Mazda, California, 1983,1992
Persian Oil Paintings, Robinson, B.W., V & A Small Colour Book 20, 1977
Royal Persian Paintings, Diba, L.S., The Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925

Exhibition History

Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (The Millennium Galleries, Sheffield 14/01/2006-16/04/2006)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo 01/10/2005-04/12/2005)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas 03/04/2005-04/09/2005)

Labels and date

PORTRAIT
Portrait of Fath Ali Shah by Abdullah Khan.
PERSIAN; early 19th century. Oil on calico.
From the Shah's Palace, Teheran.
Portrait of Fath Ali Shah
Iran, probably Tehran
1800-30

The painting of portraits in oils was introduced into Iran in the 17th century, when the country had strong links with Europe. The tradition survived the political disturbances of the 18th century, and burst back into life under the Qajar dynasty. Fath Ali Shah had numerous portraits of himself made for his own palaces and as diplomatic gifts.

Oil on calico. Signed by Abdullah Khan

Museum no. 707-1876 [Jameel Gallery]
Painting. Oil on calico. Full-length portrait of Fath Ali Shah by Abdullah Khan. From the Shah's palace at Tehran. Persian. Early 19th century. H. 7ft 7in, W. 3ft 9in. Bought 3l 6s. [Inventory of Art Objects 1876-78]

Categories

Paintings

Collection code

MES

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Qr_O97147
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