Qajar Album


This small Qajar album from the time of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar (1772–1834; ruled, 1797–1834) combines calligraphic art from various epochs with early 19th-century illustrations of high artistic quality. Although the depiction of persons is standardized and lacks individuality, the use of perspective, especially in the background, reveals European influence. Two of the miniatures portray princely scions dressed in expensive robes. Two other pages are dedicated to one of the most popular motifs of Persian book painting: the love of the nightingale for the rose, a symbol of unconditional, self-sacrificing love. The Qajar dynasty ruled Persia (present-day Iran) from 1785 to 1925. The artist makes reference to the new dynasty, depicting in delicate gold in the upper margin of both miniatures the motif of the Qajar coat of arms: a lion in front of the rising sun. This suggests that the pictures may have been commissioned by a member of the ruling house. The album later was acquired by the French orientalist Baron Antoine Isaac Silvestre de Sacy (1758–1838) and subsequently came to the Bavarian State Library as part of the library of Étienne Marc Quatremère (1782–1857), also a noted French orientalist.

Last updated: April 27, 2015