Signed and dated: Fath Allah Shirazi, 1295 A.H.
Papier–mâché, painted, varnished, and gilded; L. at front 6 1/16 in. (15.4 cm), W. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm)
Gift of Irma B. Wilkinson, 1979 (1979.460.2ab)
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. 184896), 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.