Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pen Box

Object Name:
Pen box
early 19th century
Made in Iran
Papier-maché; painted, gilded, and lacquered
H. 1 -3/4 in.; L. 9-3/16 in.; W. 1-3/4 in. H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm) W. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm) L. 9.3/16 in. (23.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1967
Accession Number:
67.206.3a, b
Not on view
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Iran witnessed a proliferation in the production of lacquer objects. Regarded as desirable possessions and status symbols, painted lacquerwares were commissioned by royal and elite patrons, sold commercially and exported abroad in quantity. Lacquer painters took great pride in their individual styles, which they demonstrated by signing and dating their works.
This box is ornamented with the gul-u-bulbul (bird-and-flower) design, wherein birds sit on branches among foliage and flowering fruits. This was a popular motif that covered a wide array of lacquer objects including pen boxes, mirror cases, and book covers.
[ Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, Germany, until 1967; sold to MMA]
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