Ismāʻīl, the Persian Ambassador of Ṭahmāsp, King of Persia


Melchior Lorck, or Lorichs (1527–circa 1590), was the most brilliant graphic artist in 16th-century Denmark. He was born in Flensburg of distinguished parents; the Danish kings took up residence in the Lorck house when visiting the city. In 1549 King Christian III gave Lorck financial support to go on an educational journey. Lorck’s wanderlust led him throughout Europe and in the end to Vienna, where he gained employment with Emperor Charles V. From 1555 to 1559 Lorck was one of three ambassadors sent by the emperor to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), where he made a series of drawings that later were used as models for woodcuts. Several years after Lorck’s death a book containing 114 of his outstanding woodcuts from Turkey was published. The work captured both the military and civilian sides of Turkey, showing soldiers, buildings, and people in exotic garments. The pictures won Lorck fame throughout Europe. Shown here is Lorck’s depiction of Ismāʻīl (later known as Ismāʻīl II), made circa 1557-62. Ismāʻīl was a son of Shah Ṭahmāsp and a diplomatic representative to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I. He became the shah of Iran around 1576.

Last updated: May 3, 2013