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A QAJAR GRISAILLE LACQUER PAPIER MACHE QALAMDAN
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A QAJAR GRISAILLE LACQUER PAPIER MACHE QALAMDAN

BY FATH'ALLAH SHIRAZI, IRAN, DATED AH 1299/1881-2 AD

Details
A QAJAR GRISAILLE LACQUER PAPIER MACHE QALAMDAN
BY FATH'ALLAH SHIRAZI, IRAN, DATED AH 1299/1881-2 AD
With rounded ends and sliding tray, the light brown top and sides worked in very delicate grisaille with various floral sprays and perching birds, the top with a very pronounced central magpie, a long commissioning inscription running along the top, the background with small gold floral designs, in gold borders, the base with gold stylized landscape, the tray with simple gold arching flowering branches, slight damage and retouching along leading edges
9in. (22.7cm.) long
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Lot Essay

The inscription on the top reads: be-jehat-e taqdim-e hozur-e janab-e jalalat madar mu'tamin al-sultan aqa-ye qawam al-mulk dama iqbalahu semat-e etmam padhiroft raqam-e mirza fathullah shirazi 1299 (It was completed to be presented to His Excellency, the one who has the seat of grandeur, trusted by the sultan, Mr Qawam al-Mulk, may his turn of fortune be everlasting. It was drawn by Mirza Fathullah Shirazi 1299/(1881-2)).

Fathullah Shirazi was the most sought after Shirazi artist of his generation, following in the footsteps of Lutf 'Ali Khan. He was awarded the title of naqqash-bashi before 1289/1872-3 (Nasser D. Khalili, B.W.Robinson and Tim Stanley: Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, London, 1997, part 2, p.124). Most of his output was variations on the gul-o-bulbul theme. One penbox in particular in the Khalili Collection is similar to the present example; made for Mirza Sulayman Khan Khalafbegi, Rukn al-Mulk in 1303/1885-6, the commissioning inscription runs along the top of the upper surface and the majority of the design is in grisaille. (Khalili, Robinson and Stanley: op.cit., no.336, pp.130-1). There, as here, there is a clear attempt to differentiate between the various birds shown. What the precise symbolism of the magpie prominently placed in the centre of the present penbox is one can only guess.

Mahmud Khan Nasir al-Mulk Farmanfarma (d. 1305/1887) received his title 'Nasir al-Mulk' in 1275/1858-9. He spent some of his life as a diplomat in St Petersburgh, and London. While in Iran, he held high ministerial positions in the Minister of Trade, War and Foreign Affaires as well as governorship of Kurdistan and Kermanshahan, Hamadan, Gilan and Khurasan. He accompanied Nasr al-Din Shah on his second trip to Europe in 1878. He is particularly known for his allegiance to the British (M. Bamdad: Dictionary of National Biography of Iran, 1700-1900, vol.,4, Tehran, 1966, pp.54-9.
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