pen box top Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2014.325
People
Muhammad Isma`il
Title
Pen Box with Armenian Priests and Europeans
Classification
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
Date
1857-1858
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan
Period
Qajar period
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/351840
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, brass particles, and lacquer over brass layer on pasteboard
Dimensions
3.7 × 4.1 × 24.7 cm (1 7/16 × 1 5/8 × 9 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Top:
    عمل اسمعيل۱۲۷۴
    The work of Isma`il, 1857-58


    [Inscribed on the sides and base are verses from the tarji` band by Hatif Isfahani.]


    Inside cover (maker’s seal):
    عبده الرجي محمد جواد۱۲۷۱
    His [God’s] hopeful servant Muhammad Javad, 1854-55
Provenance
Ezzat-Malek Soudavar, Geneva, Switzerland (by 2014), by descent; to her son Abolala Soudavar, Houston, Texas (2014), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2014.

Note:
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
2014
Object Number
2014.325
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Cover and sliding compartment with rounded ends. The top is decorated in horizontal format with a crowd dressed in European clothing paying homage to an Armenian priest with acolytes, a domed building with bell towers in the background, and Europeans riding on horseback and in carriages. The sides of the cover are painted with three-quarter length winged angels and additional figural scenes. The vignettes on the front and back reference the famous tarji`-band of Hatif of Isfahan, and cartouches carry minutely written inscriptions from that poem. The ends illustrate episodes from the story of Shaykh San`an and the Christian Maiden, from Farid al-Din `Attar’s Manṭiq al-ṭayr. The base features additional inscriptions and a gold arabesque painted on a black background. On the inside of the mouth of the cover can be seen the makers mark of Muhammad Javad (fl. 1857-after 1870).
The sliding compartment is also decorated. Two recessed panels on the front and back of the compartment bear additional scenes of Shaykh San`an and the Christian Maiden.

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. 40-41, fig. 5; pp. 74-75, ill.; p. 133, cat. 103

Exhibition History

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/17/2017 - 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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu