Imam 'Ali and Sons with a Lion

Isma'il Jalayir Iranian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 462

Isma'il Jalayir was a prolific and versatile court artist of mid-19th century Iran. Although primarily known for his portraits of the ruler Nasir al-Din Shah (1848–96) and his prominent ministers, he also created a body of religious images. These include compositions like this example showing the first Shi’ite Imam, Imam ʿAli, his two sons, Hasan and Husayn, and his close companions, probably Qanbar and Salman-i Farsi (the first Persian to convert to Islam). Here, Jalayir inserts a lion, a widely used symbol of ʿAli, that peers out at the viewer.

Imam 'Ali and Sons with a Lion, Isma'il Jalayir (Iranian, active ca. 1858–81), Ink on cardboard

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