Muhammad Isma'il was a painter of the Qajar period whose recorded works are dated between AH 1256/1840-41 AD and AH 1288/1871-72 AD. Until recently he was thought to be the younger brother of Najaf 'Ali, but research, including the discovery of a marriage certificate of Najaf 'Ali, indicate that he was more likely a pupil (Khalili et al, op. cit., p. 46). His style however was certainly influenced by Najaf 'Ali. He was a court painter throughout his career and in 1859 received the title naqqash-bashi ('chief painter'), from Nasir al-Din Shah. He is known for his tendency to depict minute scale battle and court scenes, generally in lacquer. For more information on Muhammad Isma'il see Nasser D. Khalili, B.W.Robinson and Tim Stanley, Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, Vol. II, London, 1997, p. 46 and M.A.Karimzadeh Tabrizi, The Lives Art of Old Painters of Iran, Vol. I, London, 1985, pp. 66-76.
For two more miniatures from the same series and a short discussion on the group, please see the preceding lot.