Painting by Fathallah Shirazi (Iranian, active 1850s–80s)
dated A.H. 1295/ A.D. 1878
Papier-maché; painted, gilded, and lacquered
2 1/2 x 6 1/16 x 3 1/2 in. (6.4 x 15.4 x 8.9 cm)
Gift of Irma B. Wilkinson, 1979
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
The exquisitely painted mirror case has a tan ground covered with a graceful gold grapevine scroll over which the main design has been painted in delicate shades of black. The artist, Fathallah Shirazi, has signed his name and given the date (1295/1878) on one side of the case. The inscription on the other side alludes to the patron but does not give his name. Fathallah was court painter to Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96), and was highly regarded for his lacquerwork, which is known primarily from a number of penboxes. These most often have a black ground onto which oval scrolls and swags of roses are painted in gold. On this mirror case, however, a variety of sleek birds and robust butterflies are scattered among branches bearing a dazzling array of sumptuous blossoms and bursting buds. This early work of the painter would appear to be the only known example in this particular style.
Signature: Fathollah Shirazi
Inscription: Inscription in Persian in nasta‘liq script on one side:
بر حسب فرمایش جناب جلالت مآب اجل اکرم آقا دام مجده العالي سمت اتمام یافت
Completed by the order of the most exalted excellency, the great honorable ‘Aqa’,
may his glory continue forever
Signature in Persian in nasta‘liq script on back:
رقم کمترین بندهٔ درگاه فتح الله شیرازى سنة 129 ۵
Painted by the most humble servant of the court, Fathallah Shirazi,
in the year A.H. 1295 [ A.D. 1878]
Irma B. Wilkinson, Sharon, CT (until 1979; gifted to MMA)
New York. Leubsdorf Gallery at Hunter College. "Re-Orientations: Islamic Art and the West in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," February 7, 2008–April 26, 2008.
"M.M.A. Notable Acquisitions 1979–80." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 37 (1979–1980). p. 19, ill. p. 19 (b/w).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 194, pp. 174, 277, ill. p. 194 (color).