Court Of Fath 'Ali Shah
Qajar, circa 1815
Materials and technique
Opaque watercolour and gold on paper
32 x 125.5 cm
Fath 'Ali Shah appears in opulent regal splendour, the pomp and glory of his reign resonating even in miniature in this brilliant triptych. The power of the monarch is enhanced by his impressive retinue: his own sons alongside retainers and ambassadors from France, Great Britain, Russia, the Ottoman Empire and the kingdoms of Sind and Arabia are all depicted in meticulous detail. Fath Ali Shah’s reign (1798-1834) brought stability to Qajar Iran and he was keen to transmit his image of kingship through elaborate court etiquette and portraits of himself. The present painting is a copy of life-size wall paintings prepared in 1812-13 for the reception hall of Negarestan Palace outside Tehran. The wall paintings, which were also reproduced in oil and as engravings, represented an imaginary New Year’s reception, though foreign ambassadors did actually visit the Qajar court on different occasions (Diba, 1998, pp. 174-76). If these copies were for diplomatic distribution, as seems likely, they were part of Fath 'Ali Shah’s propaganda and show of grandeur.
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