Mechti Kuli Beg, Persian Ambassador to Prague

Aegidius Sadeler II (Netherlandish, Antwerp 1568–1629 Prague)
Sheet: 10 1/8 x 7 7/16 in. (25.7 x 18.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 690
In fall 1603, soon after an embassy from Rudolf II had requested support in his struggle against the Ottomans in Hungary, Shah Abbas of Persia launched an attack against the eastern borders of the Ottoman Empire. In order to maintain close diplomatic relations with the Holy Roman Emperor during this long campaign, the shah dispatched to Prague an ambassador, who posed, holding his pet falcon, for this portrait by Rudolf's court engraver. Sadeler must have been intrigued by Persian script, though he had some difficulty engraving the inscription that identifies the sitter as an envoy of Shah Abbas. The calligraphic cluster at the left, representing the ambassador's name, could have been copied from his signet ring.
Inscription: Lettered in plate, in oval: "METCHTI KULI BEG ... PERSAR: AD IMP.ROMAN:"; in lower margin with Persian script; in lower left: "S. Caes. M.tis Sculptor AEgidius Sadeler ad vivum / delineavit Cum Privil. S: CAE. M.tis Anno. Pragae. 1605"
Princes of Liechtenstein; Vendor: P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 6, 1997–April 13, 1997.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," March 26, 2007–June 24, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from the Department of Drawings and Prints: Life at Court," May 1, 2018–July 30, 2018.

TIB LXXII, part 2,.95.286 i/iii;1Hollstein XXI.56.275 i/iii;
F. W. H. Hollstein Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts. vols. 1-64, Amsterdam, 1954–2010, cat. no. XXI.56.275 i/iii, p. 56.