The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran
In our age of social media and selfies, it may be difficult to grasp the importance of painted portraits and studio photographs in 19th-century Persia. During this time, known as the Qajar era, rulers such as Fath-Ali Shah (r. 1797–1834), a contemporary of Napoleon, and Nasir al-Din Shah (r. 1848–96), a contemporary of Queen Victoria, used portraiture to convey monarchical power and dynastic grandeur. Through a selection of about 30 works from the Freer and Sackler collections, which include recent gifts and acquisitions, this exhibition explores how Persian artists transformed modes of representing royalty and nobility. Paintings on canvas, lacquer wares and photographs also highlight Persia's artistic and cultural interactions with the West as European conventions and new technologies were being introduced.