Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Naser al-Din Shah

Person in Photograph:
Person in photograph Naser od-Din Shah (Iranian, Tehran 1831–1896 Tehran)
ca. 1852–55
Salted paper print from glass negative
Image: 33.7 x 21.2 cm (13 1/4 x 8 3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Charles K. and Irma B. Wilkinson, 1977
Accession Number:
Not on view
In this formal portrait of Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848-96), he wears a carefully chosen costume of European-style coat and trousers with a Persian robe, and a long sword hangs from his belt. These attributes accentuate both his cultural sophistication and military prowess. The practice of photography was taken up in Iran soon after its invention in Europe, and Nasir al-Din Shah was an enthusiastic amateur himself. He also employed the medium alongside the traditional oil paintings to disseminate his own image: the photograph itself could have been printed many times and easily distributed, and it also served as the basis for other paintings. In the watercolor painting that was made after this photograph, the artist has played with the colors and added decorative elements to the architecture behind. The photograph was taken by Luigi Pesce, a colonel from Naples who was appointed commander-in-chief of the Persian infantry and who was an avid recorder of his adopted country. The album in which it has been placed contains seventy-four other photographs of the Qajar court taken by Pesce, M. de Blocqueville, and other anonymous artists.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil, album page recto, under photograph: "Nasreddin Shah (1848–1895) // according to Donna Stein through Carry Welch, N.D. was himself a photographer"; in black ink, URC: "22."; in black ink and pencil on print verso, BLC: "22."
Ardeshir Mirza; [...]; Charles Wilkinson

Stein, Donna. "Early Photography in Iran." The History of Photography 7, no. 4 (October–December 1983).

Perez, Nissan. Focus East: Early Photography in the Near East (1839–1885). New York: Israel Museum, 1988. pp. 203–4.

Bonetti, Maria Francesca, and Alberto Prandi. "Italian Photographers in Iran 1848–64." History of Photography 37, no. 1 (February 2013).

See also Islamic Dept. 1977.392.4a, b for the cover.
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