top Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Muhammad Isma`il
Pen Box with Portrait Medallions on Floral Ground
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
c. 1850
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, copper ribbons, and lacquer over brass layer on pasteboard
4 × 3.9 × 23 cm (1 9/16 × 1 9/16 × 9 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: هو آلله تعلی سبحنه

    مصوره محمد اسمعيل
    He! Praise to God, the Almighty.

    His painter is Muhammad Isma`il
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 vertical format with three portrait medallions and two anchor pendants, surrounded by blossoms. The inscription is written in the anchor pendants. The portraits are of two woman (top and bottom) and one man (center). The sides are decorated with clumps of flowers growing from a ground line. The red background of the top and sides has thin stripes of a shiny copper under lacquer.

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. 29-31, fig. 6; pp. 70-71, ill.; p. 132, cat. 100

David Roxburgh and Mary McWilliams, ed., Technologies of the Image: Art in 19th-Century Iran, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), pp. 35-36, figs. 17, 19; pp. 150-151, cat. 56

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