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Identification and Creation
Object Number
Attributed to the Circle of Najaf `Ali
Pen Box with Reclining European Women and Female Portraits
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
c. 1850-1875
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, platy hematite particles, and lacquer on pasteboard
3.7 × 3.7 × 23.3 cm (1 7/16 × 1 7/16 × 9 3/16 in.)
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Ezzat-Malek Soudavar (1913-2014) formed this collection over a period of sixty years. She purchased the works of art on the international art market.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of A. Soudavar in memory of his mother Ezzat-Malek Soudavar
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends. The top is decorated in horizontal format with three vignettes featuring a semi nude woman draped in a red cloth. The background is a sparkling dark brown. In the different scenes, the companions include winged angels, a white bearded man, female attendants, and a brown bearded man who grasps a bottle. These scenes are separated by two oval medallions with female portrait busts. The sides are similarly composed and decorated, with male portrait medallions appearing on the back. The base is decorated with a gold arabesque on a black background.
Publication History

Massumeh Farhad and Mary McWilliams, ed., A Collector’s Passion: Ezzat-Malek Soudavar and Persian Lacquer, Harvard Art Museums and Freer/Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution (Cambridge, MA/Washington, D.C., 2017), pp. 46-47, figs. 15a-b; p. 137, cat. 113

David Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams, ed., Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), pp. 31-32, fig. 9; pp. 35-37, fig. 23; pp. 156-157, cat. 70

Exhibition History

Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/26/2017 - 01/07/2018

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at