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S. J. Vernoit


(fl c. 1816).

Persian painter. His only known work is a long composition depicting the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) entertained by female musicians and dancers. The only surviving fragments of it are a painting of the shah (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.) and three paintings of the entertainers (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus., ex-Amery priv. col.). The paintings of a woman playing a drum and of a woman playing a stringed instrument are signed raqam-i kamtarīn Abū’l-Qāsim (‘painted by the most humble Abu’l-Qasim’) and dated 1816, but the third painting showing a woman dancing is half-length and damaged. All the fragments share the same continuous architectural background and scale (a little less than life-size). Robinson has suggested that this mural might be the one described in the mid-19th century by the traveller Robert Binning, who reported that the house he occupied in Shiraz contained a painting of Fath ‛Ali Shah seated in state attended by ten women. The composition extended around three sides of the room and the figures were almost life-size. This identification suggests that Abu’l-Qasim might have been a native of Shiraz....


Muhammad Hasan Afshar  

[Muḥammad Ḥasan Khān Afshār]

(fl c. 1835–1865).

Persian painter. A noted court painter and portraitist under the Qajar rulers Muhammad Shah (reg 1834–48) and Nasir al-Din (reg 1848–96), Muhammad Hasan Afshar was awarded the title Painter Laureate (Pers. naqqāsh bāshī). A portrait dated 1847 in the Churchill Album (London, BL, Or. MS. 4938) depicts Muhammad Shah seated in a red tunic with blue sash and flashing diamonds. The artist’s most remarkable works are three life-size oil portraits of Nasir al-Din (Tehran, Gulistan Pal.; Tehran, Moghaddam priv. col. (see Robinson, 1991, fig.); and Isfahan, Chihil Sutun Palace, dated 1860). The artist also painted small varnished objects, such as a penbox dated 1846 (priv. col., see Robinson, 1989, fig.), which has a scene of the Last Judgement on the top and a Napoleonic battle scene on one side. The penbox was only finished in 1861 by Isma‛il Jalayir, who added a scene of the Qajar monarch Muhammad Shah in battle on the other side and a design and inscription on the base. Other members of the Afshar family also painted similar objects, such as another penbox with a scene of the Last Judgement (Los Angeles, CA, Co. Mus. A., 73.5.159)....




(fl 1815–50).

Persian painter. He specialized in oil portraits of the Qajar rulers Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) and Muhammad (reg 1834–48). To judge from Ahmad’s style, he was a pupil of Mihr ‛Ali (see islamic art, §viii, 11(i)). His early works include two portraits of Fath ‛Ali Shah. One dated 1818–19 (untraced) shows the Shah, whose face has been repainted, in full armour seated on the chair-like throne known as the takht-i nādirī and part of the Iranian Crown Jewels. A second portrait dated 1822–3 (Tehran, Brit. Embassy) shows the ruler seated on a jewelled carpet with a hooka at his side. Ahmad’s later work is more Europeanized in style. A large painting dated 1844 (Tehran, Gulistan Pal. Lib.) depicts Muhammad reviewing his troops, and another oil dated 1846 (Tehran, Firuz priv. col.) is a fine bust portrait of the monarch. Two paintings of female acrobats have also been attributed to his hand on the basis of the bold palette, bravura treatment of pattern and use of white to delineate eyelids and forehead....


Ahmet Ali  

S. J. Vernoit

[Şeker Ahmet Pasha]

(b Üsküdar, Istanbul, 1841; d Istanbul, 1907).

Turkish painter. In 1859 he became an assistant teacher of painting at the Military Medical High School in Istanbul. In 1864 Sultan Abdülaziz (reg 1861–76) sent him to Paris where, after a preparatory education at a special Ottoman school, he studied painting in the studio of Gustave Boulanger and then under Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Ahmet Ali was also instrumental in the acquisition of paintings from France for the Ottoman court. After nearly eight years of studies in Paris, he stayed in Rome for a year before returning to Istanbul, where he resumed his work at the Military Medical High School. In 1873 he organized in Istanbul the first group exhibition of paintings by Turkish and foreign artists to be held in Turkey. He was later appointed master of ceremonies at the Ottoman court and by the time of his death had risen to the office of intendant of the palace. His paintings were influenced by European art. They include landscapes, such as ...


Mihr ‛Ali  

[Mihr ‛Alī]

(fl c. 1795–1830).

Persian painter. He produced at least ten full-size oil paintings of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834). One of the earliest (1797–8; Calcutta, Victoria Mem. Hall), a portrait of him kneeling on a carpet, was probably sent as a present to the amirs of Sind in 1800. Two fine portraits (1803–4 and 1804–5) were painted for the Hall of the Marble Throne in the Gulistan Palace, Tehran, and a third, of the King enthroned (undated; Versailles, Château), was sent to Napoleon. These early portraits show Fath ‛Ali Shah with a squat neck and round face, but Mihr ‛Ali’s drawings improved in the first decade of the 19th century and later portraits show the King with more flattering proportions. These later paintings include portraits of the King standing (1809–10; St Petersburg, Hermitage), kneeling and holding a mace (1813–14; St Petersburg, Hermitage), and a third with the date obliterated (London, B. W. Robinson priv. col.). Mihr ‛Ali’s finest portrait, and perhaps the finest ...


Mirza Baba  

[Mīrzā Bābā]

(fl c. 1795–1830).

Persian painter. Reportedly a native of Isfahan, he was employed by the Qajar family at Astarabad, as indicated by a signed drawing of a dragon and phoenix (1788–9; ex-Pozzi priv. col.). After Agha Muhammad (reg 1779–97) ascended the throne, Mirza Baba worked at the Qajar court in Tehran in a wide variety of materials, techniques and scales. His oil portrait (1789–90; Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.) of the Sasanian king Hurmuzd IV (reg ad 579–90) probably belonged to a series of historical portraits, for Mirza Baba painted a second series a decade later. One of the two surviving paintings from the later series (Tehran, A. H. Ibtihaj priv. col.) shows the Saljuq ruler Malikshah (reg 1072–92) with his two ministers. Other early works by Mirza Baba include a still-life with pomegranates, watermelon and flowers (?1793–4; Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.) and an arched panel showing Shirin Visiting Farhad as He Carves Mt Bisitun...


Aqa Buzurg  

[Āqā Buzurg]

(b Shiraz; fl c. 1840–60).

Persian painter. His portrait of the Qajar ruler Nasir al-Din (reg 1848–96) as Crown Prince (untraced) was done in 1846, as was a painting of a pheasant and partridge in the Churchill Album (London, BM, Or. MS. 4938). His finest piece is a varnished (‘lacquered’) penbox dated 1853 (Tehran, Mus. Dec. A.) decorated with penetrating portraits of the ministers of Prince Farhad Mirza, governor of Shiraz. The butt end of the penbox contains a self-portrait of the artist, showing him painting a penbox. Portraits continued to be his main subject, as on a pair of varnished book covers (priv. col., see Robinson, 1979, fig. 235) attributed to the end of his career. His portraits are notable for their realism and are similar in spirit to the work of his contemporary, the court painter Abu’l-Hasan Ghaffari (see Ghaffari, Abu’l-Hasan).

B. W. Robinson: Persian Miniature Painting from Collections in the British Isles...


Drissi, Moulay Ahmed  

Moroccan, 20th century, male.

Born 1924, near Marrakech.

Painter. Figures.


The absence of figurative representation in much traditional Islamic art is less the result of a religious ban than a symptom of the religion's symbolic relationship with the world. Drissi's painting is characterised by this ambiguity: in painting figures in given situations, he nevertheless strips them of their bodily appearance, creating strictly hieratic shapes cloaked either in a burnous or a djellaba, featureless faces, and oppressive, empty surrounds where the living are never far from the grave....


Gargiullo, Antonio  

Italian, 19th century, male.

Painter, watercolourist. Genre scenes.


Antonio Gargiullo took advantage of the fascination with Islamic culture that was fashionable during the late 19th century, and painted local Orientalist scenes, often in watercolours.

Juler, Caroline: Les Orientalistes de l'école italienne, ACR Édition, Paris, 1994....


Osman Hamdi  

S. J. Vernoit

[Edhem, Osman HamdiHamdi Bey]

(b Istanbul, Dec 30, 1842; d Eskihisar, Gebze, nr Istanbul, Feb 24, 1910).

Turkish painter, museum director and archaeologist. In 1857 he was sent to Paris, where he stayed for 11 years, training as a painter under Gustave Boulanger and Jean-Léon Gérôme. On returning to Turkey he served in various official positions, including two years in Baghdad as chargé d’affaires, while at the same time continuing to paint. In 1873 he worked on a catalogue of costumes of the Ottoman empire, with photographic illustrations, for the Weltausstellung in Vienna. In 1881 he was appointed director of the Archaeological Museum at the Çinili Köşk, Topkapı Palace, in Istanbul. He persuaded Sultan Abdülhamid II (reg 1876–1909) to issue an order against the traffic in antiquities, which was put into effect in 1883, and he began to direct excavations within the Ottoman empire. As a result he brought together Classical and Islamic objects for the museum in Istanbul, including the Sarcophagus of Alexander, unearthed in Sidon in ...


Muhammad Ja‛far  

S. J. Vernoit

[Muḥammad Ja‛far]

(fl c. 1800–30).

Persian painter. He was the most prolific painter in enamels at the court of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834), but unlike his contemporaries Baqir and ‛Ali, Muhammad Ja‛far did not attach a title to his name when he signed his work. One of his earliest works is an inkpot for a penbox (1805; sold Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 25 May 1964, lot 2) decorated with busts of a young man and a girl. His most impressive pieces are large objects made for official presentation to foreign dignitaries. He enamelled several large gold dishes that are decorated with a lion and sun in the centre panel surrounded by alternating birds and floral swags. One (1813; ex-Kazrouni priv. col.; sold London, Sotheby’s, March 1954, lot 867) was presented to Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844), the British ambassador to Iran, and another made of solid gold and weighing more than six pounds (...


Isma‛il Jalayir  

[Ismā‛īl Jalāyīr]

(fl c. 1860–70).

Iranian painter. The son of Hajji Muhammad Zaman Khan Jalayir of Khurasan, Isma‛il Jalayir trained in the 1860s at the Dar al-Funun, the college founded in Tehran by the Qajar monarch Nasir al-Din (reg 1848–96). The artist worked in a variety of media including oil, miniature, grisaille and varnished paint (‘lacquer’; see Islamic art, §viii, 10). In addition to portraits, his subjects ranged from Christian scenes, such as the Sacrifice of Isaac (ex-Schulz priv. col., see Schulz, i, pl. F), to depictions of historical events. In 1861 he added a battle scene of the Qajar ruler Muhammad (reg 1834–48) to a varnished penbox (sold London, Sotheby’s, 1978) decorated some two decades earlier by Muhammad Hasan Afshar with scenes of the Last Judgement. Isma‛il Jalayir was a favourite of Nasir al-Din and painted a fine portrait of him (1862–3; Tehran, Mus. Dec. A.). The artist’s work is Europeanized on the surface, as in a painting of a group of ladies drinking tea from a samovar in a garden pavilion (London, V&A, P.56–1941), but maintains the traditions of Persian painting and is often tinged with gentle melancholy. Isma‛il Jalayir committed suicide at a young age sometime between ...


‛Abdallah Khan  

S. J. Vernoit and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[‛Abdallāh Khān]

(fl c. 1810–50).

Persian painter and architect. Trained in the apprentice system in royal workships, he rose through the ranks and in 1839 he was appointed by Muhammad Shah Qajar (reg 1834–48) painter laureate (naqqāsh bāshī), court architect (mi‛mār bāshī) and supervisor of royal workshops in charge of painters, architects, designers, enamelers, masons, carpenters, potters, blacksmiths, spearmen, candlemakers, keepers of the palace, glass-cutters and gardeners. His major work was a large mural with 118 life-size figures covering three walls in the interior of the Nigaristan Palace at Tehran (destr.; see Islamic art, §VIII, 11(i)). On the end wall the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) was depicted enthroned in state surrounded by his sons; on the side walls he was attended by a double row of courtiers and foreign ambassadors, including the British ambassador Sir Gore Ouseley (1770–1844) and Napoleon’s envoy C. M. Gardane (...


Lutf ‛Ali Khan  

[Luṭf ‛Alı Khān Shīrāzī]

(fl 1840–70).

Persian painter. He is often designated ṣūratgar (‘painter’) to distinguish him from the Zand monarch of the same name (reg 1789–94). The artist continued the flower-and-bird tradition associated with ‛Ali Ashraf and is best known for flower paintings, such as one dated 1841 of a hand holding a rose blossom (priv. col.; see Robinson, 1979, fig.). Lutf ‛Ali also illustrated manuscripts, and he signed most of the illustrations in a copy (1854–64; Shiraz, Vesal priv. col.) of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of kings’). His working methods can be seen from his album (Tehran, Riza ‛Abbasi Mus., 1299–1309, 1311–1510), which contains a dozen folios of pounces, drawings and studies for penboxes, caskets, daggers and manuscript illumination. A few are in Lutf ‛Ali’s own style of floral sprays and flowering hazelnut branches within cartouches and medallions, including the pounce used for a painted and varnished (‘lacquered’) penbox (1849; Tehran, Mus. Dec. A.) decorated with a floral design incorporating European figures. Other materials in the album range in style and show the variety of compositions and designs readily available to Iranian artists in the 19th century....


Muhammad Hasan Khan  

S. J. Vernoit

[Muḥammad Ḥasan Khān]

(fl c. 1800–40).

Persian painter. He signed a number of large oil paintings (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.; ex-Amery priv. col.), including two life-size portraits of princes and a painting of Shaykh San‛an and the Christian Maiden. Other paintings that can be attributed to the artist on stylistic grounds include a third portrait of a prince in the same collection and two paintings of women (Tbilisi, Mus. A. Georg.). His style is characterized by a soft rendering of features, fondness for reddish brown and a hallmark vase of flowers. He also produced miniature paintings in the form of monochrome portraits. European travellers in Tehran in the 19th century erroneously attributed to him the large mural in the Nigaristan Palace depicting the court of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834), but this painting is now considered the work of ‛Abdallah Khan.

S. Y. Amiranashvili: Iranskaya stankovaya zhivopis’ [Iranian wall painting] (Tbilisi, 1940)...


Sayyid Mirza  

S. J. Vernoit

[Sayyid Mīrzā]

(fl c. 1810–40).

Persian painter. He specialized in oil portraits of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (reg 1797–1834) and his family, and he also produced fine examples of painted and varnished (‘lacquered’) pieces. One of the artist’s earliest works is a mirror-case (1815–16; Dublin, Chester Beatty Lib.) with depictions of the Virgin and Child and the Annunciation. Sayyid Mirza, together with Baqir, signed the impressive varnished covers that Fath ‛Ali Shah ordered to replace the original binding on the famous copy (London, BL, Or. MS. 2265) of Nizami’s Khamsa (‘Five poems’) made for the Safavid shah Tahmasp I in 1539–43. Sayyid Mirza’s signature appears on the front cover, on which is depicted Fath ‛Ali Shah hunting with his sons. The artist’s most impressive work (1828–9; Firuz priv. col.), a large painting of the Shah enthroned with his sons and courtiers, was in the Hasht Bihisht Palace in Isfahan during the 19th century. In ...


Seyyit, Süleyman  

(b Istanbul, 1842; d Istanbul, 1913).

Turkish painter. After studying at the Military Academy in Istanbul, he was sent by Sultan Abdülaziz (reg 1861–76) to Paris, where he underwent a preparatory education at a special Ottoman school and later studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In Paris, under Alexandre Cabanel, he developed his talent for meticulous workmanship. On returning to Turkey he was appointed assistant to the painter Osman Nuri Pasha (1839–1906) at the Military Academy, and he taught there for many years. Disappointed at his failure to rise above the rank of major, he also worked as a French teacher at several schools. He contributed articles to newspapers and wrote an unpublished work on perspective. His paintings, which were influenced by European art, included still-lifes, such as Still-life with Hyacinths (1900; Istanbul, Mimar Sinan U., Mus. Ptg & Sculp.), and landscapes, for example Inside the Woods (1900s; Istanbul, Mimar Sinan U., Mus. Ptg & Sculp.). Like the painter Ahmet Ali, he generally avoided figural narrative subjects. Unfortunately many of his paintings, sold posthumously as part of his estate, later deteriorated in private collections....


Muhammad Shirin  

[Muḥammad, the ‘Shirin’ Painter]

(fl c. 1825–50).

Persian painter. He painted in a distinctive, bold style and is known for his depiction of plump moon-faced women. He has been assigned the name Muhammad on the basis of the punning signature, yā muḥammad (‘O Muhammad’) on a painting of a reclining woman (1842; Foroughi priv. col.). The artist is also known as the ‘Shirin’ Painter, a name derived from a painting of a woman (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus., ex-Amery priv. col.) inscribed with the name Shirin. Several other paintings (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.; Tbilisi, Mus. A. Georg.; London, V&A) can be assigned to him on stylistic grounds, and his output seems to have quite large. He excelled in the depiction of women (e.g. a dancing woman with castanets; Tehran, Nigaristan Mus., ex-Amery priv. col.); his male figures are less successful.

S. Y. Amiranashvili: Iranskaya stankovaya zhivopis’ [Iranian wall painting] (Tbilisi, 1940) B. W. Robinson: ‘The Court Painters of Fatḥ ‛Alī Shāh’, ...