An official portrait of Muzaffar al-din Shah Qajar (Reg. 1896-1907), painted on the occasion of his state visit to Belgium in 1905, by Aimé Oscar Stevens Belgium, dated 1905

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Lot 119W
An official portrait of Muzaffar al-din Shah Qajar (Reg. 1896-1907), painted on the occasion of his state visit to Belgium in 1905, by Aimé Oscar Stevens
Belgium, dated 1905

Sold for £ 68,812 (US$ 85,968) inc. premium
An official portrait of Muzaffar al-din Shah Qajar (Reg. 1896-1907), painted on the occasion of his state visit to Belgium in 1905, by Aimé Oscar Stevens
Belgium, dated 1905
oil on canvas, signed and dated Bruxelles 1905 lower right
210 x 115 cm.

Footnotes

  • This impressive lifesize portrait, painted during the Shah's third and final trip to Europe, demonstrates the significant transformation of Qajar court art and style from the highly stylised works of the first half of the 19th century. The desire to conform to the fashion conventions favoured by western monarchs, a trend which commenced during the reign of Muhammad Shah in the 1840s, is epitomised in this fine depiction by the Belgian artist Aimé Oscar Stevens (1879-1951). The Shah stands on the terrace of his Brussels hotel wearing the frock coat of a European officer with epaulettes, medals and cordon bleu, his left arm resting on a European dress sword. The characteristic black hat of the Qajar tribe and his emblematic moustache, imitating that of the Safavid Shah Abbas the Great, are the only allusions to his Persian heritage.

    Like his father, Nasr al-Din Shah, Muzaffar al-Din Shah visited Europe three times and even borrowed money from Nicholas II of Russia to pay for his travel expenses. In Paris he was introduced to the cinematograph, and immediately ordered his photographer Mirza Ibrahim Khan (four of whose works feature as lots 113-116 in this sale), to acquire the equipment and knowledge to bring moving pictures to Persia. The event is recorded in his travel diaries, which provide a useful record of his travels. His sitting with Aimé Oscar Stevens is also recorded:

    Whilst in Belgium on a Thursday afternoon we ascended the staircase of the hotel where an artist was waiting who had come to paint our portrait. (Muzaffar al-Din Shah's Second Travel Diary, p. 142).

    The Shah's European journeys had a great impact and encouraged him to bring about administrative reforms at home in Persia. He would later become the first king to sign the Persian Constitution shortly before his death in 1906.
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