Mozayen al-Dowleh, also known as Mirza 'Ali Akbar Khan (1843-1932), was a prominent artist of the late 19th/early 20th century and a respected figure of the Dar al-Funun. He was a graduate both of the Dar al-Funun and of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1868 following the implementation of a new set of criteria for selecting instructors, where preference was given to European or Western-educated Iranians, painting classes at the Dar al-Funun were placed under his direction. He thus became the first naqqashbashi appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Shah and remained in the position for fifty years.
Mozayen al-Dowleh was responsible for training a number of the most prominent painters of the late 19th century. Isma'il Jalayir, the painter of lot 150, was amongst his students. He was also master of the famous artist, Muhammad Ghaffari, Kamal al-Mulk. Because of his European training, it has justly been suggested that it was from Mozayen al-Dowleh that Kamal al-Mulk acquired his European style and technique (Julian Raby, Qajar Portraits, exhibition catalogue, London, 1999, p. 70). Layla Diba writes that 'although he was a competent portraitist, Muzayyin al-Dawleh's, main forte was landscape and still-life painting' (Layla S. Diba et al, Royal Persian Paintings, New York, 1998, p.60). Aside from the style of his work, Mozayen al-Dowleh's European influence playfully shows through in his signature which ends with the Latin 'pinxit'.
Mozayen al-Dowleh was also an enthusiast of music and theatre. He taught band music at the Dar al-Funun. After Nasir al-Din journeyed to Europe in 1873 where he was impressed by performances of circuses, operas and theatres, Mozayen al-Dowleh was asked to manage a project to build the first European-style auditorium to be built in the higher school of the Dar al-Funun.