Art And Culture

Qajar Royal Portraits on Display at Smithsonian

Paintings and photographs highlight Iran’s complex artistic and cultural interaction with the West
Smithsonian Institution in WashingtonSmithsonian Institution in Washington

Royal portraits from the Qajar era (1785-1925) in Iran will go on display at Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

‘The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran’ opens February 24 and will run till August 5 at Gallery 27 of the institute.

According to the statement of the exhibit published on the website of the venue (, “in our age of social media and selfies, it may be difficult to grasp the importance of painted portraits and studio photographs in the 19th century Iran. During this time, known as the Qajar era, rulers such as Fath-Ali Shah (reigned 1797–1834, a contemporary of Napoleon) and Nasir al-Din Shah (reigned 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 includes recent major gifts and acquisitions, the exhibition explores how Persian artists transformed modes of representing royalty and nobility. Paintings on canvas, lacquerwares, and photographs also highlight Iran’s complex artistic and cultural interactions with the West as European conventions and new technologies were being introduced,” the statement continued.

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