Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mirror Case

Painting by Zain al-'Abidin
Object Name:
Mirror case
A.H. 1206/ A.D. 1844–45
Attributed to Iran
Exterior: pasteboard, papier-maché; opaque watercolor, gilded and lacquered Interior: mirror
Ht. 9 1/4 in.(23.5 cm) W. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Catherine and Robert Harper, in memory of Drs. Grigor and Arax Acopian, 2009
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462
During the 18th and 19th centuries Iran witnessed a proliferation in the production of a wide array 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 one has been created by an artist who signed his work "Ya Zayn al-`Abidin" and dated it "sana 1206" (the year A.D. 1844–1845.)
This mirror case is ornamented on the front and back with the gul-u-bulbul (bird-and-flower) design, wherein a nightingale sits in the midst of lush foliage. The inside of the shutter contains a spectacular painting of small flowers grouped around a large iris, with a butterfly in the upper right corner. This painting is the most outstanding of the three painted surfaces.
Inscription: Ya Zayn al-'Abidin, sana A.H. 1260 /A.D. 1844–45
Catherine Harper, Mattituck, NY (from about 1969–2009; gifted to MMA)
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