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Zand &
Qajar Periods; Part 2

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Qajar Periods; Part 4

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In the second half of the 19th century Nasir al Din Shah, as well as collecting European artworks supported a local school of portraiture which abandoned the style of Fath Ali Shah in favour of a European-influenced academic style. The works of these local artists ranged from state oil portraits to watercolours of unprecedented naturalism.

Photography now began to have a profound impact on the development of Persian paintings. Soon after it was introduced into Iran in the 1840s, Iranians promptly adopted the technology. Nasir-al Din Shah's Minister of Publication, I'timad al-Saltaneh, claimed that photography had greatly served the art of portraiture and landscape by reinforcing the use of light and shade, accurate proportions and perspective.

Photograph of Nasir-al Din Shah

Portrait of Nasir-al Din Shah

Portrait of Nasir-al Din Shah. Photographer unknown.

Portrait of Nasir-al Din Shah. Artist unknown

The watercolour on the right, clearly shows the artist's effort to copy the photograph in every detail. The colours and decorative details used, must have been according to his patron's wishes.

In 1896 Nasir al-Din Shah was assassinated and within ten years Iran had its first constitutional parliament. This period of political and social change saw artists exploring new concepts, both within and beyond the confines of imperial portraiture.

In the double portraiture of Muzaffar al-Din Shah the prematurely aged ruler is shown resting one arm on a cane, the other on the supporting arm of his Premier. The artist here conveys both the frail health of the Monarch and the Monarchy.

Portrait of Muzaffar al-Din Shah and Premier 'Abd al-Majid Mirza

Portrait of Muzaffar al-Din Shah and Premier 'Abd al-Majid Mirza, 'Ayn al-Dawleh', by 'Abd al-Husayn (Sani' Humayun). Tehran, early 20th century

The most important artist of the late Qajar period was Muhammad Ghaffari, known as Kamal al-Mulk (1852-1940) who championed a new naturalistic style.

Painting by Kamal al-Mulk

"Exorcist and clients", by Kamal al-Mulk, or his circle. Tehran c. 1900

In contrast to earlier paintings of Royalty and nobility, this picture shows a move towards the portrayal of common people in the early 20th century.


Persian Art Through The Centuries

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Persian Art
Through The Centuries

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Persian History
The Qajar Dynasty

Copyright © 1999 K. Kianush, Art Arena