Signed pish-khedmat-e makhsus muhammad ('The officer of the royal household Muhammad')
Muhammad Ghaffari (Kamal al-Mulk) comes from a family of painters of Kashan. He moved to Tehran at the age of 12 in order to study at the dar al-funun 'The College of Fine Arts'. His teacher was Mirza 'Ali Asghar Muzayyin al-Dawla who had been educated in Europe. Under his teacher's supervision, Muhammad painted the portrait of I'tizad al-Saltana (d. 1298/1880-01) from a photograph. In one of his visits to dar al-funun, Nasir al-Din Shah saw I'tizad al-Saltana's portrait and liked it. This led to Muhammad being asked by the king to move to the shams al-'imara. This happened when he was 20 years old, and he immediately started to work and his salary was raised to 200 tuman, plus other allowances which added up to 360 tuman. (By the end of Nasir al-Din Shah period it had risen to 3500 tuman per annum).
Muhammad Ghaffari commented that the Shah had knowledge of painting, and that all portrait paintings were left by the Shah to Muhammad. Muhammad described his position at the court as the pish-khidmat, the naqqash-bashi, as well as the teacher to the king.
After the assassination of Nasir al-Din Shah, Muhammad decided to go to Europe, and studied in Florence, Rome and Paris copying paintings of masters. On Muzaffar al-Din Shah's first visit to Paris AH 1317/AD 1900, Muhammad met the King. Later Muzaffar al-Din asked him to return to Iran, which he did, and worked at the court (the term khaneh-zad, used in the colophon of this painting is a reference to him working at the court). Among the commissions was a half portrait of Muzaffar al-Din Shah for which he was given a diamond ring, and according to Kamal al-Mulk, is the only portrait of Muzaffar al-Din Shah he ever painted (Now in The al-Sabbah Collection). The date shows that it was one of his first commissioned pieces by Muzaffar al-Din Shah( The Memoires of Dr Ghassem Ghani, Vol. 5, London, 1981, pp. 1-150, and M. A. Karimzadeh Tabrizi, The Lives and Art of Old Painters of Iran, vol. 3, London, 1991, pp.1031-59.