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Private reception: the Shah speaks to his sisters, princesses Shams and Fatima

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Tehran (photographed)

  • Date:

    October 1958 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Troeller, Charles Gordian (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by John and Juith Hillelson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 1000, box G

Physical description

Black and white photograph of the Shah of Iran, dressed in formal attire, eating whilst engaged in conversation with two women, both in strapless evening dresses, the one on the left wears glasses.

Place of Origin

Tehran (photographed)


October 1958 (photographed)


Troeller, Charles Gordian (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

Photographer's stamp with 'credit' hand-written in blue biro.

'COPYRIGHT / THE / JOHN HILLELSON / AGENCY / 145, FLEET ST. LONDON, E.C.4. / Tel. FLEet Street 7664 / BAYswater 7389.'
Copyright stamp of John Hillelson Agency.

Stamp of John Hillelson Agency.

'October 1958.'
Hand-written in black crayon on the back of the photograph.

'Réception privée: Buffet. Le Chah s'entretient avec ses soeurs, les princesses Chams et Fatima.'
'Private reception: buffet. The Shah speaks with his sisters, princesses Shams and Fatima.'
Typed paper label fixed on back of photograph.

'6 1/16" x 7 5/8" deep'
Measurements hand-written in blue biro on back of photograph.

'Obs 3 May / Rawle Knox article / Tonight certain.'
Hand-written in blue biro on back of print.


Height: 35.9 cm sheet, Width: 23.9 cm sheet, Height: 30.2 cm image, Width: 23.9 cm image

Object history note

This photograph was donated by John and Judith Hillelson from their collection and archive of the John Hillelson Picture Agency.

Historical significance: Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was the last Shah of Iran (reg.1941-79) and Charles Gordian Troeller the first photojournalist permitted to photograph the private reception held each year in celebration of the Shah's birthday. This photograph forms part of a series of 24 photographs taken by Troeller during the festivities for the Shah's 39th birthday in 1958. The series is of historical significance as a pictorial record of a now disposed dynasty. Just 5 years prior to these photographs being taken the Shah was forced to flee Iran due to his country being increasingly dogged by political unrest in the aftermath of WWII. Having been quickly escorted back to power by a joint military operation orchestrated by British and American secret services, five years on, in these photographs, the Shah, his family and their courtiers appear to have survived the worst.

Looking at these photographs now, knowing that in 1979 further political unrest would lead to the monarchy's permanent banishment (the Shah died in exile in Egypt in 1980), give these photographs an unsettling quality. The series captures the calm before the real storm.

Descriptive line

Black and white photograph of a the Shah of Iran talking to his sisters at a private reception, by Charles Gordian Troeller,Tehran, October 1958.


Photographs; Royalty


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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