This painting comes from a famous series of portraits of Persian rulers and figures from the Shahnameh which was commissioned by Fath 'Ali Shah for the Imarat-i-Naw Palace in Isfahan. It must have been a very impressive commission as it is mentioned by many of the European travellers to Isfahan, such as James Morier (A Journey through Persia in the years 1808 and 1809, 2 vols, London, 1812, I, p.167), Sir William Ouseley in 1812 (Travels into various Countries of the East, 3 vols., London, 1823, III, p.26), J.S.Buckingham in 1825 (Travels in Assyria, Media and Persia, London, 1829, p.233) and Charles Texier in 1839-40 (Description de l'Arménie, la Perse et la Mesopotamie, Paris, 1852, p.129).
Until 1985 all the paintings from the group were thought to have been destroyed, but in that year the paintings of Afrasiyab and Ghengis Khan were discovered and sold in these Rooms (4 July 1985, lots 197 and 198). The scale of the figures in the present painting is the same, but a comparison shows our example to have lost a considerable amount of canvas, particularly above the figures. The other two examples which were of the original size measured 9ft.6in. x 4ft.4in. (289 x 133cm.). In both, the main figure is identified, as here, with a nasta'liq inscription in the sky to the side of his face. The signature and date were inscribed below centre, in an area which the present painting has now lost.
Both the previous examples had faces which were very ferocious, in contrast to the present painting. It has been suggested that the sweet features of the present ruler are because he is Persian rather than either Turanian or Mongol!