Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari was the chief royal painter under Nasir al-Din Shah. He was sent to Italy to study painting from 1845-50 and was responsible for the introduction of Western realism of portraiture styles into later Qajar painting.
The gentleman depicted in this miniature is probably Abbas-Qoli Khan Javanshir Mo'tamed al-Dawla, the son of Abu'l Fath Khan. He was the governor of Kashan in 1835 and of Ardabil and Meskhinshahr in 1859. In 1849 he was appointed Minister of Justice and he died in 1862 or 1863.
Abu'l Hassan Ghaffari is responsible for another, very similar, portrait of Mo'tamed al-Dawla, (Yahya Zoka, Life and Works of Sani' ol-Molk 1814-1866, Fig. 4, p. 42). Zoka refers to an article by Mehdi Bahrami in Iran-e Emrooz in which he writes of that work, "truly no detail of his face is missing in this rendering. The lush beard and hair curls that characterized the visage of Mo'tamed od-Dowleh are all masterfully depicted" (Zoka, op. cit., p. 42). The same can be said for the present example. Abu'l Hasan Ghaffari is known to have done more than one copy of many of his works. For example for a work by him that was sold in these Rooms, 17 April 2007, lot 276, another version is known in the Khalili Collection.
Mo'tamed al-Dawla is also represented in the Nezamiyeh Hall and Zoka mentions another watercolour portrait of him by Abu'l Hassan Khan (Zoka, op. cit., p. 42).