Pen Box with a Portrait of a Qajar Prince

papier-mâché cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends, painted and varnished

25 x 4.7 x 4.5cm

The top of this box is decorated in the vertical format with a full-length portrait of a young Qajar prince, perhaps Nasir al-Din Shah before his accession. The prince wears a tall astrakhan cap, a black frock-coat with gold-embroidered facings and two orders, and black trousers with a wide gold stripe. Above him there are indications of clouds and a landscape, and below him two antelopes. Most of the ground is sparkling gold.

The sides of the cover have rococo panels with masses of flowers and the occasional bird, while the base of the cover and the sides of the sliding compartment have gold floral scrolls, fruiting vines and birds on a dark-green ground, within a gold floral border.

The box is unsigned, but it may be attributed to Muhammad Isma‘il.

N.D. Khalili, B.W. Robinson & T. Stanley, Lacquer of the Islamic Lands, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XXII, Part Two, London 1997, cat.240, pp.47–9.