Portrait of Nadir Shah thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

Portrait of Nadir Shah

Painting
1780-1800 (made)
Place Of Origin

This painting is a portrait of Nadir Shah Afshar, one of the most important figures in Iranian history of the last 300 years. Nadir Shah was a brilliant military commander of humble origins who rose through the ranks due to his talent. He was a key figure in the restoration of order in Iran after the Afghan invasion of his country in 1722. At first, he worked in the name of members of the previous dynasty, the Safavids. In 1736, however, he declared himself Shah, and he ruled with considerable success until his assassination in 1747. He established a large and effective army that had few rivals in Asia. With it he repulsed the Ottomans and Russians from Iranian territory and conducted a successful invasion of the Mughal empire in what is now Pakistan and northern India. He defeated the Mughal army in 1739 and seized the capital, Delhi. Among the loot he acquired was the Mughal emperor's jewels, which are still kept in the Central Bank of Iran in Tehran.

This is one of only two portraits of Nadir Shah in oils that survive, but they both seem to date from the late 18th century, several decades after his death. The Shah is shown wearing weapons and other accoutrements (armbands, belt, hat band etc.) that are jewelled with precious stones understood to be from the Mughal treasure. The carpet on which he sits is also Mughal.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Brief Description
Painting, portrait of Nadir Shah seated on a carpet, oil on canvas, probably Tehran, 1780s or 1790s
Physical Description
Painting, oil pigments on canvas, portrait of Nadir Shah.
Dimensions
  • Frame height: 179cm
  • Frame width: 116.5cm
  • Weight: 60kg (Rough estimate of weight framed and glazed)
  • Frame depth: 7.5cm
Content description
Nadir Shah.
Style
Credit line
Given by G. J. Welford, Esq., M.D.
Object history




Subject depicted
Summary
This painting is a portrait of Nadir Shah Afshar, one of the most important figures in Iranian history of the last 300 years. Nadir Shah was a brilliant military commander of humble origins who rose through the ranks due to his talent. He was a key figure in the restoration of order in Iran after the Afghan invasion of his country in 1722. At first, he worked in the name of members of the previous dynasty, the Safavids. In 1736, however, he declared himself Shah, and he ruled with considerable success until his assassination in 1747. He established a large and effective army that had few rivals in Asia. With it he repulsed the Ottomans and Russians from Iranian territory and conducted a successful invasion of the Mughal empire in what is now Pakistan and northern India. He defeated the Mughal army in 1739 and seized the capital, Delhi. Among the loot he acquired was the Mughal emperor's jewels, which are still kept in the Central Bank of Iran in Tehran.



This is one of only two portraits of Nadir Shah in oils that survive, but they both seem to date from the late 18th century, several decades after his death. The Shah is shown wearing weapons and other accoutrements (armbands, belt, hat band etc.) that are jewelled with precious stones understood to be from the Mughal treasure. The carpet on which he sits is also Mughal.
Bibliographic References
  • Layla S. Diba and Mariam Ekhtiar (eds), Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925, London, 1998, pp. 210-11, cat. 19.
  • L. Lockhart, Nadir Shah: A Critical Study Based Mainly Upon Contemporary Sources, London: Luzac & Co., 1938, frontispiece.
  • 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
  • Pearls / Beatriz Chadour-Sampson ; with Hubert Bari. London: V&A Publishing, 2013 Number: 1851777555, 9781851777556p.148, cat. no. 154
  • Jenny Housego, "18th Century Persian Carpets: Continuity and Change", in Pinner and Denny (eds.), Oriental Carpet and Textile Studies 3/1 (1987) pp.40- 46: fig.1.
  • Ernest Tucker, Nadir Shah's Quest for Legitimacy in Post-Safavid Iran, Gainsville, Florida, 2006, frontispiece.
  • Illustrated in 'Iranian Textiles' by Jennifer Wearden and Patricia L Baker, V&A Publishing, 2010 fig. 5 page 17.
  • William Dalrymple and Yuthika Sharma (eds), Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi, 1707-1857, New York and New Haven, 2012, pp. 88-9, cat. 17.
  • Marcus Fraser, ‘Muhammad Riza-i Hindi. An important Indo-Persian artist of the mid-eighteenth century’, in The Journal of the David Collection, V, 2021, 178–229, especially pp. 203–4.
Collection
Accession Number
IM.20-1919

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record createdJune 30, 2003
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