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Article

[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 ...

Article

[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...

Article

(b La Roque d’Anthéron, Bouches-du-Rhône, Aug 19, 1777; d Paris, Feb 23, 1841).

French museum director, painter, printmaker, writer and military officer. He studied painting in Aix-en-Provence under Jean-Antoine Constantin, alongside his lifelong friend François-Marius Granet; further teachers included Jean-Jacques de Boissieu, Jean-Louis Demarne and, from 1796, Jacques-Louis David. He first exhibited at the Salon in that year. However, during the Empire he was chiefly celebrated as a soldier, writer and lover. He became Chamberlain and consort to Napoleon’s sister, Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese, and was decorated for his conduct in the Portuguese and Austrian campaigns. In 1810 Charles Barimore, the most successful of his four Orientalist novels, was a great sensation in Empire boudoirs. Forbin’s most significant contributions to the history of art came when he returned to Paris after the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814.

Following his appointment in 1816 as Director of the Royal Museums, to succeed Vivant Denon, Forbin’s first concern was to minimize the repatriation of works of art acquired by force during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. In ...

Article

Jon Whiteley

(b Montpellier, Dec 15, 1807; d Paris, Aug 8, 1893).

French painter. He was trained by Eugène Devéria and Achille Devéria and made his first appearance at the Salon, in 1836, with Luca Signorelli da Cortona (Avignon, Mus. Calvet) and Flight into Egypt (untraced), the first of a number of religious pictures painted in the 1840s in the pleasant, sentimental manner of Eugène Devéria’s religious work. The Humility of St Elizabeth of Hungary (exh. Salon, 1843; Montpellier, St Louis), Conversion of the Magdalene (1845; Nogent-sur-Seine, parish church) and Adoration of the Shepherds (1846; Quesnoy-sur-Airaine, parish church) belong to an idea of the Rococo common in the 1840s. Glaize’s interest in 18th-century French art is also evident in Blood of Venus (exh. 1846) and Picnic (both Montpellier, Mus. Fabre). This element was less obvious in the 1850s. In 1852 he exhibited a scene of the savage heroism of the Women of Gaul: Episode from the Roman Invasion (Autun, Mus. Rolin), one of the first pictures on a theme that appealed to a new interest in the history of Gaul in the Second Empire. Increasingly, he adopted subject-matter favoured by the ...

Article

Nonna S. Stepanyan

[Avnatamov; Ovnatanyan; Yovnat‘anyan]

Armenian family of artists active from the 17th to the late 19th century in manuscript illumination, church decoration, iconostasis painting, portrait painting and lithography. Naghash Hovnat‘an (1666–1721) was a poet and artist who painted churches in Erevan. In 1720–21 he decorated the cathedral at Ēdjmiadzin; decorative fragments (tempera on dry plaster) have survived, as well as a scene showing King Trdat III (reg 286–330), his wife Ashkhen and his sister Khosrovidukht at prayer. Hovnat‘an’s sons Hakop and Harut‘un (birth and death dates unknown) illuminated religious books (Erevan, Matenadaran Inst. Anc. Armen. MSS, MSS 8645, 2162, 1522), decorated churches and executed oil paintings on Gospel themes in imitation of European forms. Hakop’s son Hovnat‘an (1730s–1801/2) was court painter to Irakli II (reg 1744–98), King of Georgia. He painted a series of pictures on religious subjects, as well as portraits of prominent Armenian ecclesiastical figures. In ...

Article

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 (...

Article

(b Durham, April 26, 1777; d St Petersburg, May 4, 1842).

British painter, writer and diplomat. His family moved to Edinburgh in 1780, and there he knew the young Walter Scott and the Jacobite heroine Flora Macdonald. A battle painting owned by Macdonald inspired him to become a painter of battle scenes himself. In 1790 his mother took him to London to see Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy, who was impressed by Porter’s sketches and arranged for him to be admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. There he made rapid progress and in 1792 was awarded a silver palette by the Royal Society of Arts for his drawing the Witches of Endor (untraced). The following year he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece for Shoreditch Church in London, and he received a number of further commissions over the succeeding years. On a visit to his grandparents in Durham he painted his only known landscape, View of Durham (untraced), which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in ...

Article

Sergey Kuznetsov

[Rustem, Jan Johann]

(b Constantinople [now Istanbul], 1762; d Dūkštas, 1835).

Lithuanian painter and teacher of Armenian descent. From 1772 he was educated at the Czartoryski court in Poland and studied in Warsaw under Jan Piotr de Norblin de la Gourdaine and Marcello Bacciarelli. In 1788–9 he studied in Germany, returning to work as a scene-painter in Michal Kazimierz Ogiński’s theatre in Słonim. From 1798 to 1832 he taught in the painting department of Vilnius University, initially as assistant to Franciszek Smuglewicz, from 1807 as professor. In 1820 he organized the first art exhibition in Lithuania, of works by his students. His early work was influenced by French classicism, as in his portrait of Adam and Marie Mirsky with V. Shumskaya (1808; Warsaw, N. Mus.); later he was more interested in reproducing his immediate impressions of nature. He is considered the father of the Romantic trend in 19th-century Lithuanian art; he painted fewer formal portraits, in which a neutral background replaced the conventional landscape, and the individual characteristics of his sitters were brought out, as also in his ...