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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Attributed to the Circle of Najaf `Ali
Pen Box with the Virgin and Child, Elderly Saint, and European Women
Artists' Tools
Work Type
pen box
c. 1850
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Qajar period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Opaque watercolor, gold-colored pigments, and lacquer on pasteboard
3.6 × 3.7 × 23.6 cm (1 7/16 × 1 7/16 × 9 5/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
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 cartouches containing figures. The central cartouche contains the Virgin and Child, a kneeling attendant, with and elderly male figure, perhaps a saint, clasping his hands in the background. The upper and lower cartouches feature three-quarter length portraits of European women with flowers in their hair. The sides are decorated with figural vignettes, interspersed with portrait medallions of European women and one man. On both front and back, the central vignette features a gathering of dervishes; rural scenes occupy the outermost vignettes. The base is painted with a gold arabesque against a red ground.

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), p. 126, cat. 81

Verification Level

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